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Gen Z vs Millennials: The Key Differences Explained

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gen z vs millennials

Did you know that Millennials and Gen Z form over half of the total population of the United States? Although these two generations are back to back, they have many differences. These differences often bring up the conversation of Gen Z vs Millennials.

Whether you have younger people in your life or you run a business that targets Millennials and Gen Z, you should be aware of the goals of the next generation. Here are some of the contrasting features between the two age brackets on major issues facing the world today.

Growing Up in the Internet Age

It’s hard to imagine a world where the internet does not exist, but it did not become mainstream to have internet access until the nineties. Therefore, due to their respective ages, Millennials vs Gen Z have very different experiences with the internet.

For Millennials, most of their childhood involved dial-up internet, which meant that the internet could only be accessed through a phone line. Millennials had the internet as a luxury, but mostly still played outside or hung out with friends. As they got older, they witnessed the evolution of the internet into the high speed, wireless routers that we enjoy today.

However, Generation Z has always been able to easily access the internet. Because of this, many members of Gen Z have never known anything else. While Millennials have nostalgia about a childhood without constantly being online, Gen Z has always been connected.

Cannabis Culture and Consumption

One of the biggest issues in modern culture is the legalization of cannabis. Cannabis has always attracted the younger population, and Millennials and Generation Z certainly fit with the trend. Weed has broken into the mainstream culture more and more in the past decade than at any other time in recent history.

Although cannabis has always been around, Millennials did not get the same experience that Gen Z has. Most Millennials began smoking weed when it still had a taboo status. Marijuana consumption for Millennials revolved around sneaking a joint or smoking with friends after school.

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Gen Z has a much more positive outlook on cannabis, especially now that it can be smoked legally in many states. Common methods of consuming weed for Gen Z include vaping, edibles, and dispensaries with higher quality products.

College and Education

A college education has always been a staple of the American Dream, and Millennials and Generation Z live up to that expectation. The rising costs of education and changing opinions may cause a gap in how many younger kids end up actually going to college.

Millennials education focused on graduating from high school, going to college for four years, and then getting a good job to enter the professional world. As a result, many Millennials went into a lot of student debt. This debt affects things like potential homeownership and building wealth.

Though Gen Z is still the most educated generation, they seem to be more skeptical about higher education. In fact, Gen Z has shown interest in trade schools as an alternative. These programs usually have apprenticeship options to help lower costs, and many students graduate debt-free.

Individuality or Herd Mentality

Like any comparison of generations, Millennials and Gen Z have some contrasting values. One of the major differences involves individualism, the idea of expressing your thoughts and opinions without fear, and becoming one’s true self.

Millennials gear more towards a herd mentality, or the need to fit in and follow along with trends. Millennials in general seem less inclined to speak out on issues unless they see a movement already starting or a large base. It may be difficult to break away from a lifetime of following rather than leading.

Gen Z has much more political knowledge and affluence, thanks in part to unfettered access to the internet. They seem much more comfortable with voicing their opinions on issues such as LGBTQ rights, climate change, prison reform, and many others.

Environmental Concerns

Even in the past couple of decades, education about climate change and conservation has drastically increased. Both Millennials and Gen Z have huge concerns for the health of our planet, and making a better world for future generations that live in it.

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In the late twentieth century, Al Gore made many people aware of climate change, which had a major impact on how Millennials view the issue. It wasn’t until recently that many older Millennials began to take big steps toward fixing climate change.

Combined with the internet, Gen Z has been exposed to the effects of climate change much more than Millennials. Younger people tend to take more action in terms of making ethical purchases to help environmental causes. Children like Greta Thunberg have started movements towards more action on climate change.

Health and Fitness

Millennials and Gen Z are healthier than previous generations. In the last few years, there’s been a large push toward whole-body fitness, rather than just losing weight. Both generations seem to be making positive waves in the fitness and food industries.

In the nineties, the prime time when Millennials grew up, diet culture became a fad. Yet lots of these programs have proved to be damaging in the long run. What are Millennials doing nowadays to be healthy? They gravitate towards group classes and eating a diet made up of better ingredients.

For Gen Z, it’s all about body acceptance and loving your features. They focus less on numbers and more on a healthy lifestyle. With technology, Gen Z has also embraced YouTube and fitness apps as a way to stay fit and keep track of goals.

Gen Z vs Millennials: Are They Really All That Different?

It can always be interesting to compare multiple generations and how they respond to the modern world. In the argument of Gen Z vs Millennials, there are many key factors that draw a clear line between the two groups.

In order for us to have a better future, it is more important than ever to band together and put aside generational differences.

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