It wasn’t too long ago when your child couldn’t get enough of your hugs, and would be bursting at the seams to tell you about school that day. Now aliens have seemingly replaced your once adorable child and his best friends. They do have their own language.
You may not fully understand all the latest technology or the apps they are using. It might be true, but fear not! We are going to share insights and shed some light on the subject of the Gen Zers to help you better relate to them. As their parent, you need to provide support as they blaze a path into this new digital age.
1. THE WORLD IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FOR DIGITAL NATIVES
Gen Z is the first generation that are true digital natives. They have never lived a single day without technology in hand. In their lifetime, there have always been computers, the internet, smartphones, Facebook and Instagram. They have always lived in an instant world, a world where some of tomorrow’s jobs don't even exist yet. Many of yesterday’s jobs are soon to be taken over by robots. This generation needs to prepare for a world most of their parents are not at all familiar with. If parents grasp that, they will then begin to understand them as a generation and why the role parents need to play has a playbook that is still being written.
2. DELIBERATE PARENTING DOESN’T MEAN BEING A HELICOPTER PARENT
There are two typical outcomes of helicopter parenting: children either exhibit indecisiveness because the parents made decisions for them, or they rebel against authority and control. Deliberate parenting happens when you “download” and “install” the latest update on parenting which provides a new lens through which to look at your Gen Zer. Instead of leading, you’ll be shepherding them on their journey. By creating a safe environment where they can experiment and even more importantly, fail, you’ll facilitate the learning of, amongst other things, the soft skills they will need for tomorrow. This will be the hallmark of a successful Gen Z parent.
3. YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA IS A PARENTING TOOL
Set a positive example on your own social media platforms. Make sure your own social media presence is positive, inspiring and accurate. This will model for your child how to do it well. Digital media is a critical part of tomorrow’s resume and an important part of staying relevant with friends. Do your own innovative vlogs, YouTube clips, post pictures or start a podcast with your Zers. This will demonstrate to them what is acceptable, without having to be the teacher in the room.
4. YOUR HOME IS THE NEW MALL
Encourage your child and their peers to use your home as the hangout of choice. This will afford you a glimpse into their world, and enable you to be present in their lives without hovering too closely. Alternatively, you can also offer to be the driver.
5. THEY ACTUALLY LIKE AND TRUST YOU
Gen Zers trust their parents more than any generation before them. This comes from parents raising them with a certain amount of transparency and open communication. Currently with research showing a direct correlation between more than 3 hours a day on digital screens and escalating depression and suicide rate, these skills are important to enable you to keep an open line of communication in your home. Some other tips are to monitor the amount of time spent on devices and supplement their free time with in person experiences. Combat this by delivering bite size experiences for them to participate in. A few short experiences per day could keep them engaged, involved with others and away from the screen.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” - Chinese Proverb
Any step you take is a step in the right direction towards a great future for your child. There is something unique and phenomenal about the Z Generation. They are the most creative, entrepreneurial, cause-driven, eco-minded, economically conservative individuals with a mission to change the world. Like a fruit tree, much of its success depends on how well it is nurtured and fed; the same applies to walking out this journey with our Zers.