It’s that time of year again when we sum up the progress of the old year and speculate the future events of the next. As a futurist who spend my time gazing at the youngest generation I can’t let this opportunity pass me by. So now on Christmas Eve, when I should prepare my house with evergreens, spiced cider and gingerbread cookies, I’m instead sharing my eight predictions for how Generation Z will shape the next year. ( Talk about geeking out!)
They will bring at least one household item out of obscurity. 2013 was the year of duct tape and rubberbands. Enter any Justice retail store and you will find duct tapes in all kinds of patterns and color as well as small rainbow loom rubberbands in metallic, neon and any color possible. Why this trend? A combination of less discretionary money and YouTube has turned this youngest generation into creators and makers. Ok, kids have always loved arts and crafts, but gone are the days with predesigned, ready-made packages created by adult toy developers. This type of fun is now kid-created, kid-advertised and permeates the webosphere like multicolored epidemics. The most entrepreneurial of these kids are even using the YouTube for selling their finished products. Bye-bye, lemonade stand!
- At least three apps will be generated by an under-12 kid. These might very possibly be mobile apps that will penetrate the adult market reversing the age relationship between producer and user. This last month of the old year Code.org has launched it’s very publicized Hour Of Code, which is the monumental ambition of inspiring 10 million kids around the world to consider a career in computer science or at least learn the basics of coding. The project is already staring to deliver. Some kids have already created Android apps at school. Talk about hands on learning!
- Another school tries to teach 21st century curricula using gamification. Despite an educational system mired in rigid test regimes, yet another Middle School will refocus it’s educational mission and embrace what has been called the twenty-first century skills, which aspires to teach the students systems thinking, creative problem-solving, collaboration, time management and identity formation. Many of these goals will be achieved by gamifying the educational experience. Students will spend more cognitive energy on solving wicked problems than cramming artificially constructed problems for test prepping. The difference? Cramming is boring, playing is addictive.
- HIV- positive newborns will be cured. Yes, you read that right. Cured! An newborn who derived her condition from her HIV-positive mother was treated with a combination of three anti-HIV drugs that doctors normally use to treat older infants and adults. She was consequently able to rid herself of the viral load and seems just fine. So the latest crop of people (which technically belongs to Gen Alpha or Homelander, not Gen Z) might run no risk of growing up with the inheritance of the unwelcome virus. The doctors are only modestly celebrating since 60% more HIV may lie dormant in infected individuals than previously thought. But it still bodes well for the future.
- Sexting, Bullying, TMI , Oh My!
- About 43 percent of teens will be embarrassed, taunted, cyberbullied or slutshamed online in the next coming years.
- At least 10 babies or toddlers will have their lifelong reputation compromised by well-meaning adult relatives who thought it was just too cute not to share that first visit to the potty with the world. If you need examples, just head on over to STFU Parents.
- At least three parents will use social media and the power of internet to shame their child for a real or perceived misdeed. In so doing the parent will receive a flurry of compliments in the comment section for their use of ‘tough love’, a few drowned out criticisms for their draconian parenting styles and prime time coverage at the local news station where the anchorwoman will laugh off the event with comment that sounds something like “children nowadays”. Some very few people will write about how the shamed child’s reputation now is tarnished for life. Thanks, Mom and Pop, for your continued business! Sincerely, Reputation.com.
- More female masters of the arrow. Inspired by Hunger games heroine Katniss Everdeen 11-year-old Serina Norte won Cub Female Freestyle division at the National Field Archery Association last year. Female Gen Z icon like Merida and Katniss Everdeen are bringing archery back in fashion, and the Nerf Rebelle couldn’t be better timed this holiday season. Right smack at the release of Catching Fire, the second movie in the Hunger Games trilogy, Gen Z girls are channeling their inner bow masters like never before.
- Less pretty princess, more cutesy and lovable in children’s entertainment. Speaking of emboldened tween girls, Disney has finally understood that the days of Pretty Princess waiting around for the prince are over. She takes action into her own hands. Compared to Gen Y, Gen Z are pragmatic, realistic and not as shaped by gender stereotypes as in the past. The KGOY marketing phenomenon (kids getting older younger) is about to reverse. Kids experience childhood as a safe place in a dangerous world. They have been (over)protected and their mothers have taken great efforts at shielding them from toys that send subtle misogynist messages. Bye-bye, Barbie. Welcome, Anna and Elsa. Thought Monster High are as raunchy and sexified as they can come? True, but the girls who play with them like them because they are – flawed! It’s impossible in a Gen Zer’s mind to be a zombie and perfect at the same time. So they’re imperfect – just like lovable Olaf the snowman from the movie Frozen. What Disney probably did underestimate was the extent of Olaf’s popularity. He fits right into this childish, cartoonish scheme that is so endeared by this generation.
At least 20 pubertal Gen Z guys will rock a mustache. In my adolescent years there was no way a teenage boy would enter adulthood by volunteering his pubertal facial hair to become a twirly mustache. Especially not if he wanted to be popular with the girls. Now this is the recipe for success with the girls. Throw on some thick-rimmed glasses and tight pin-striped dress pants and the world is your oyster, Sir!
Who said history repeats itself?