Generation Z is redefining traditional values

Straddling the end of the millennium and the start of the Y2K period, Generation Z is considered the age group born with a silver smartphone in their hands. As they come of age in the digital era, the group finds itself torn between following the traditional values of their parents and branching off as independent thinkers.

“Gen Z women are more likely than previous generations of women and men to be independent in their decision-making,” said Pamela Aronson, a sociology professor and women’s and gender studies affiliate at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She is also the author of “Gender Revolution: How Electoral Politics and #MeToo are Reshaping Everyday Life.”

Jordyn Bennett. (Photo courtesy of Kaylin Linder / Caplin News)

Former Florida Atlantic University graduate Jordyn Bennett was raised in South Florida by her African-American mother and Colombian father. Her unique family dynamic has greatly shaped her into who she is today.

“As a middle child with two brothers, I felt pressured to fit in a mold by my peers and struggled with my identity,” Bennett said.

Raised in a time of rapid societal changes, from divisive presidential elections to the #MeToo sexual harassment awareness movement, Gen Z has had to mature faster than their older counterparts. 

“As education increases, gender traditionalism decreases,” said Aronson.

Hernan Lucce. (Photo courtesy of Kaylin Linder / Caplin News)

Hernan Lucce, a Haitian Miami Dade College student, moved to the United States with her six siblings when she was seven. Though her parents grew up with the internet and she frequently followed their advice, she also learned to hold her own when it came to decision-making.

“I was always independent,” said Lucce. “My parents emphasized the importance of hard work and education.”

San Diego State University’s Dr. Jean Twenge is a psychologist who studies generational differences. In her book “iGen,” she describes Gen Z as “a less confident, more anxious generation than millennials at the same age.” Twenge highlights that the group is the first to spend their entire adolescence using smartphones.

While being a generational trailblazer can be isolating, Gen Z finds comfort in platforms like TikTok and YouTube that allow students like Bennett and Lucce to connect with others over their shared experiences.

“Social media was a source of validation growing up as a biracial teenager,” Bennett said. “Despite its challenges, it connected me with others.”

Social media has also advanced women’s empowerment by creating a space for Gen Z to share a fresh perspective and speak freely on the movement, even if it goes against the norms of generations past.

Antonnette Campbell. (Photo courtesy of Kaylin Linder / Caplin News)

College student Antonnette Campbell was born and raised in Jamaica and moved to South Florida when she was 14. Social media helps her show an open and cheery side of her personality that most wouldn’t pick up on in person. Campbell also uses social media to promote and network with other brands. Even though she does not get paid for the brand deals and receives backlash from her family, she sticks by the benefits of having an active social media presence.

“I think my personality is more open on social media than towards my family,” Campbell said. “I have posted things on social media that do not always align with my family values.” 

Another event that greatly shaped Gen Z was the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it had on the generation’s job prospects.

“Despite the supposed labor shortage, many recent college graduates struggle to find a career path in their fields of study,” said Aronson. “The labor shortage is disproportionately in service jobs, not professional ones.” 

Since the pandemic, young women like Bennett, Lucce, and Campbell have simultaneously felt more connected to their families than ever before and in touch with their generation’s unique qualities.

“When using social media, I am honest with myself while also being mindful and respectful of my family’s opinions,” emphasized Campbell.

Kaylin Linder is a senior broadcasting journalism student at Florida International University. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in digital journalism. She has been in love with Journalism since the eighth grade and started to hone in on her love for writing in her freshman year of high school. She enjoys reading and watching anything that deals with true crime because she loves how reporters never forget who the victims were and what they meant to their loved ones. After graduating, Kaylin looks forward to reporting about injustices going on in the United States.