In a world full of information overload, we’re still trying to figure out what appeals to Generation Z. According to a report by ConsumerLab, India has roughly 200 million children under the age of 18, and 69 million of them reside in urban areas. These young people have a very different childhood to the one their parents experienced. The study also adds that 40 per cent of urban children regularly dine out at expensive restaurants and 23 per cent use their parents’ credit cards to buy new things.
On one hand we talk about Generation Z’s ‘disregard for rules’, and their ‘lack of brand loyalty’. We question how they handle relationships, and feel that they spend too much time on social media. On the other hand we hear stories about their pressured lives under the tyranny of social media and the uncertainty of the modern economy.
Recently, a study conducted by UK’s The Varky Foundation, took a deeper look into how this generation approaches day-to-day events. The 61-page research paper focuses on topics such as happiness, anxiety, global issues, politics, same-sex marriages, gender equality, and the future of the world.
“For Generation Z, rapid change has been a constant. This is the first generation of digital natives who have grown up living the profound human experiment of social media – in which our attitudes towards information, relationships, and privacy have greatly shifted,” the paper says.
During the course of the survey, 20,088 individuals from various countries were asked a series of questions. The countries included UK (1,031), France (1,017), Germany (1,036), Italy (1,050), Russia (1,081), USA (1,018), Canada (1,003), Australia (1,024), New Zealand (1,011), Israel (1,007), Turkey (1,005), China (1,032), South Korea (1,023), India (1,033), Indonesia (1,019), Japan (1,029), Brazil (1,027), Argentina (1,038), Nigeria (547), and South Africa (1,057).
While explaining the reasoning why these nations were chosen, Varky Foundation said that these nations represent a good geographic spread across continents, whilst also being accessible using an online survey methodology. The size of the online panels in these countries was sufficient to allow a robust, nationally representative sample of 15- to 21-year-olds to be achieved
When asked whether they would describe themselves as happy, 68 per cent of the individuals from all nations said yes. Interestingly, the happiest Generation Z came out of Indonesia (90 per cent), Nigeria (78 per cent) and India with 72 per cent.
Factors that contributed to happiness included being healthy both physically and mentally, having a good relationship with family, as well as friends, fulfilled in study and work, enjoying social life, having enough money to lead a comfortable life, and faith in a religion.
For young people in India having a good relationship with family was deemed to be at least as important as being healthy (96 per cent), while 65 per cent said that they were happy with their commitment to a religion or faith.
What makes them anxious?
When it came to what made them anxious, the pressure of earning money, and doing well in school topped the list. When it came to India, 46 per cent said money made them anxious, while 32 per cent said they faced the pressure of doing well academically. However, coming third on the list was violence in the country, which was on par with family-related issues. India, along with China and Indonesia said that access to basic resources such as food and clean water also made them anxious.
Local community versus wider world
An interesting number that came out of the study was that out of the 20 countries, 19 said that they were more concerned about the well-being of the wider world than the local community. Nigeria, however, said that they weren’t concerned with either the local community or the wider world’s well-being. India, Indonesia and the USA were the only three nations where two per cent of the individuals interviewed said that they were concerned with the local community. Only one per cent in the remaining nations said they focused on local community.
While the numbers for local community are low, it isn’t exactly high when it comes to global well-being. Turkey tops the list with 9 per cent focusing on global well-being, while five per cent of India feels that global well-being is important.
For Generation Z in India, developing skill sets mattered more than earning money. Only 10 per cent of the people questioned said pay mattered the most compared to 37 per cent who said they wanted to develop their skills. For Indians, opportunities for advancement, and travelling to meet new people came above money.
In trying to understand young people’s identities, respondents were asked to reflect on their values and what they considered most important to them personally. For Indians, honesty topped the list, followed by helping family members. Working hard to reach personal goals came third, while kindness was fourth on the list.
New ways of living
When questioned on gender equality in India, 92 per cent of Indians said that men and women had the right to be treated equally. India also scored well at 79 per cent when it came to transgender people having the same rights as non-transgender people. However, the numbers came down to 53 per cent when it came to same sex marriage and whether people should have the right to non-violent free speech in all circumstances even when what they say is offensive to a religion.
Forty-four per cent of Indians believed that India is a free country where they have the freedom to live the way they want to and added that family and school were the major factors that would increase sense of belonging to local community.
The youth also feel that the government is doing too little to tackle the current global refugee crisis. However, barring Turkey, all the other nations feel the same way as India does.
Indians, too, feel that quality education across the board will be the single biggest factor that would make the greatest difference in uniting people. Other parameters taken into consideration include an end to prejudice on the grounds of race, religion and gender, more economic equality, for example, more evenly spread income distribution, more cooperation between countries to solve the world’s problems, greater use of technology in connecting people, and a greater role for religion in society.
Young people have a negative outlook on the future of the world and believe the world is becoming a worse place to live in. Indians felt that extremism and global terror was the single reason for a unsafe future, while conflict and war, and the rich and poor divide came second and third respectively.
How can they make a difference?
The research suggests the world over generally espouse views on equality and progress to overcome social discord. Making a wider contribution to society (beyond looking after oneself and one’s family and friends) is considered important to a majority of young people at a global level, with 67% saying it is important to them. Contributing to wider society is considered most important to young people living in South American countries.