“How regularly? Everyday. EVERYDAY! Hours. When I’m not with my friends, I’m talking to my friends online – it’s as if we’re never apart or alone.” Grace, b.1999
“Just to see how people are going, being able to message people that I haven’t talked to in a while. Sharing photos with people overseas… I might check it every 2 hours.” Oliver, b.2002
Being CONNECTED is one of the main reasons that Gen Z’s use social media.
The essence of friendship and social connection are the same today as they were a decade ago, however the expression of friendship has evolved and expanded quite rapidly, with the integration of new social platforms into our everyday lives.
For Gen Z’s, the ability to continually communicate is one of the core drivers for why Gen Z’s are on social media. Technology has created a platform where constant connection is available 24/7, and your geographical location is no longer a restriction to your social friendship networks.
Social Media platforms such as Facebook, instant messenger, Snapchat, Instagram and texting, have created platforms of communication where users are in constant connection with friends, family, peers and colleagues.
Here are 3 insights into Gen Z, their friendships and social circles:
Wide Friendship Circles
A key development of friendship circles within Gen Z today, is the immense breadth of connection. Social media is now considered such a legitimate form of social interaction that it has become almost as valid as face to face contact as a primary means of communication and relationship formation. Friendships are seen to be authentic and legitimate whether you are in face-to-face contact, or communicating online through social media. When friends relocate to a different city or region, they can still feel connected through constant updates and online interactions. For a Gen Z it’s not either/or, rather both/and, when it comes to online and offline communication.
A unique quality to Gen Z’s friendships is their fluid and continuous communication with each other online and offline. Conversations can transitions seamlessly from online socialising to face-to-face connection, and vice versa. Online socialising can be anything from sharing photos or thoughts on Facebook or Instagram, to ‘tagging’ friends in funny memes, videos and online communities. Social media is not only a platform for communicating but for the delivery and distribution of content – and is a powerful medium for shaping youth culture. Whilst previous generations youth culture was shaped by popular movies, television shows and magazines, the content influencing today’s youth culture is rapidly changing, constantly emerging and is in many instances being authored by the generation themselves.
Social media platforms are integrated into our everyday lives as a main form of interaction. “Not only is it considered a more ‘real’ and legitimate form of socialising than it is often given credit for by members of previous generations, the social interaction that occurs online is considered just as genuine and just as valid as if an interaction were occurring offline.” Hello Gen Z.
Social media has impacted the way that Gen Z’s form romantic relationships. Jess (b.1999) explained that “if your friend is dating someone it’s kind of known that your friends are all dating them as well.”
“If your friend is dating someone, then that person’s best friend is also dating them. The friend is there to investigate the relationship. The friend basically acts as a mediator – so everything that happens in the relationship they expect to know. Anything that you and your boyfriend talk about, then they would expect you to tell them about it. If it is a person they have never met before, they would stalk them on every social media platform and feel the need to become friends with them.” Jess, b.1999
Friends have always wanted to know that their friends are being treated right in a relationship; the main difference with Gen Z is that the details of your life have never been more public. It is not uncommon for a friend to stalk the potential boyfriend or girlfriend on multiple social media platforms, on behalf of their friend, to keep in the loop.
As social connection platforms evolve and develop, changing the expression of friendship, the main thing to keep in mind is that as people are social creatures, the need for meaningful connections and real relationships are as significant as they were a generation ago. We will explore the nature of wellbeing, affirmation and identity in coming blogs, as this generation navigate their unique social worlds.
Extracts taken from HELLO GEN Z: ENGAGING THE GENERATION OF POST MILLENNIALS
Hello Gen Z
ENGAGING THE GENERATION OF POST MILLENNIALS
Hello Gen Z is the new book from Claire Madden, Australia’s foremost social researcher on generational engagement.
With a foreword by Bernard Salt, this book will help organisations, educators, leaders and parents understand what has shaped this extraordinary group of young people. Order a copy of the book here. Bulk order discounts are also available.
About Claire Madden
Claire Madden (www.clairemadden.com) is a social researcher, keynote speaker and media commentator interpreting social trends and implications of generational change. As a keynote speaker, Claire is highly regarded for her dynamic and engaging presentations where she translates robust, research-based content into strategic applications for educators, managers and business leaders.
To invite Claire to speak at your next event, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +61 2 8091 4321.