cartoon-style illustration of diverse group of generation z'ers

Illustration by Serge Seidlitz


Common Core: RH.6-8.1, RH.6-8.2, RH.6-8.4, RH.6-8.7, WHST.6-8.4, RI.6-8.1, RI.6-8.2, RI.6-8.4, RI.6-8.7, W.6-8.4, SL.6-8.1

NCSS: Culture • Time, Continuity, and Change • Individual Development and Identity • Civic Ideals and Practices


Good News About YOUR Generation!

Today’s middle schoolers are part of something really special—a group of young Americans who are already making the world a better place. Here’s everything you need to know about Generation Z.  

If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you’ve likely heard a lot of buzz about a remarkable group of Americans. They’re young, diverse, and on track to achieve record levels of education. Members of this group are creative and tech savvy. They’re also passionate activists who defend the environment and aren’t afraid to call out injustice when they see it.

Experts say this group is poised to change society in enormously positive ways. So who makes up this increasingly influential segment of the U.S. population? You, your friends, and everyone else in Generation Z!

Defining a Generation

According to the Pew Research Center, Generation Z includes kids, teens, and young adults who were born between 1997 and 2012. Members of this generation are currently between the ages of 8 and 24 and make up about 20 percent of the U.S. population. (That adds up to a whopping 67 million people!)

Generation Z is on a mission to “fix things so they’re not broken anymore for other people.”

Researchers have been studying generations—groups of people born within certain 15- to 20-year spans—since the late 1800s. Members of the same generation experience major events (such as social, economic, and technological shifts) at around the same age, which shapes their views of the world in unique ways. 

Experts say Gen Z’ers—as they’re often called—have been strongly influenced by growing up during one of the most politically divisive eras in U.S. history, not to mention a pandemic. (To learn what influenced previous groups, see “Meet the Other U.S. Generations!,” below.)

Gen Z on a Mission 

Still, most Gen Z’ers are cautiously optimistic, says Corey Seemiller, an expert on youth culture and a leadership professor at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Many members of this generation are worried about global problems, such as racism and climate change. But they are determined to be part of the solution. 

“What’s so interesting about Gen Z is it’s not that they’re going to change the world—they are already changing the world,” says Seemiller. Today’s young people are “doing unbelievably remarkable things, not for fame or fortune, but because they see something that doesn’t feel right, and they want to make it better.”

Just what, exactly, makes you and your friends the generation to watch? Read below to find out!

The Most Diverse Generation... Ever!

Generation Z is the country’s most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet. Nearly half of Gen Z’ers today identify as people of color, and more than half will identify as such by 2026 as new immigrants join their ranks, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections. 

This shift is due, in part, to increases in the country’s young Latinx and Asian populations. Also, the number of mixed-race marriages is on the rise—and, as a result, so is the number of mixed-race children.

“Generation Z has more exposure to other diverse identities than other generations have had,” Seemiller says. “When you grow up with kids who are different from you, regardless of what that difference is—race, gender, religion—you’re likely going to have a more open perspective.”

Born to Take a Stand 

From encouraging adults not to buy single-use plastics that harm the environment to mobilizing their social media followers to join a protest, Gen Z’ers take activism seriously. They know how to raise awareness about issues they care about—and, as Seemiller says, “fix things so they’re not broken anymore for other people.”


Share of Gen Z’ers who believe they can change the world by solving global problems

SOURCE: Wunderman Thompson Data


Percentage of Gen Z’ers who say that peaceful protest is a key way to achieve positive change in the world


Good Students, Hard Workers

More Gen Z’ers—including more Black and Latinx students and women of all races—are enrolling in college than members of previous generations. 


Percentage of Gen Z’ers who want careers in which they can make a difference in the world

SOURCE: Wunderman Thompson Data


Share of Gen Z’ers who say they value working and already have at least one job, such as walking dogs

SOURCE: Henley Business School

Meet the Other U.S. Generations!

Agence Roger Viollet/The Granger Collection

Baby Boomers
Members of this group were born between 1946 and 1964, part of a huge surge in U.S. birth rates following the end of World War II (1939-1945). Baby Boomers grew up during a strong economy and were among the first Americans to have TVs in their childhood homes. As teens, many took part in civil rights marches and other demonstrations.

ClassicStock/Alamy Stock Photo

Generation X
Born between 1965 and 1980, Generation X is relatively small, reflecting a decline in birth rates that began in the mid 1960s. Gen X’ers grew up with less adult supervision than previous generations, as a result of increased divorce rates and more women entering the workforce. They were among the first to have personal computers.

Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images

Named for their oldest members, who became adults at the turn of the 21st century, Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996. They grew up as the internet became popular. Many are old enough to remember the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S. and were negatively affected by the Great Recession—some just as they started working.

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