You have probably heard generation names such as Baby Boomers or Generation Z both on the internet and during in-person conversations. So what do these terms really mean? Here are how the terms for Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and Generation Z originated.
Boomers, or Baby Boomers, were born between 1946 and 1964. Today, most Boomers are either retired or almost retired. Baby Boomers got their title for being born during a time when people became family-focused after World War II. In a calmer, more peaceful world with affordable living costs, many babies were born.
Boomers grew up with technology as a much smaller part of their lives. With no computers or cellphones to make online meetings and communication possible, Boomers depending largely on in-person interaction both socially and for work.
As the years went on, most Boomers adapted well to technology. While Boomers generally use the internet and smartphone to a lesser degree than newer generations, an estimated 90% of Boomers have accounts on the popular social media site Facebook.
Even so, Boomers largely prefer to receive paper mail and do banking in-person rather than online. As the generational stereotype claims, Boomers generally value the concept of hard work, 9-5 jobs, and raising children.
As the name implies, Generation X or Gen X is not a generation with as clear-cut an identity as Boomers and Generation Z. Gen X was born between 1965 and 1979. Caught on the cusp of technology advancement, this generation experienced a marked change from an offline-only lifestyle to an accelerating takeover of technology and internet. This may contribute to this generation’s lack of established identity, as their childhoods and young adult years were considerably different.
Gen X is more tech-savvy than Baby Boomers in general, although they still tend to lean toward conducting business transactions and banking in-person rather than online. Many Gen X-ers still read physical magazines, newspapers, and enjoy traditional TV and radio. Gen X spends even more time on Facebook than any other generation.
Baby Boomers grew up and raised families in relative financial security, although some Boomers may not be able to retire as pensions decline. Gen X has experienced this drop in financial security more acutely than Baby Boomers. Unlike Boomers, Gen X has and still does struggle with mortgage fees, student loans, and feeding their families.
Generation Y or Millenials were born between 1980 and 1996. Not many sources agree when Gen Y births ended. Some state 1994 as the final year of Gen Y babies, while others claim it is 1996. Due to their relatively young ages, Gen Y adults are far more tech-savvy on average than previous generations. While a large percentage watches traditional TV, streaming services such as Netflix are now favorites of most of Generation Y.
With the internet at their fingertips, Generation Y tends to be less trusting of brands than Boomers and Gen X, as they often seek online reviews of companies to determine which service or company is best. More of Gen Y completes work and personal tasks with technology, such as through online banking.
While Generation Y is quite fond of laptops and desktop computers, they still do not prefer smartphones and mobile phones as much as Gen Z. Gen Y struggles with more student debt than ever and has a difficult time affording mortgages. With less financial stability and more of a focus on education and career opportunities than ever, Gen Y generally puts less of a priority on raising families and buying houses.
Generation Z was born between 1996 and 2015. In similarity to Gen Y, this term is less established than Baby Boomers or Generation X. Some areas of the media cite Generation Z births as ending in 2010, while others claim Generation Z kids were born up to 2015. Either way, most agree that Generation Z started sometime between 1996 and 2000.
Most of Generation Z, especially those born in the 2000s, have never known a life without the dominant presence of the internet and other forms of digital technologies. Gen Z leans heavily toward online banking, using social media for news and connecting with friends, and carrying a smartphone at almost all times.
The future of Generation Z is still uncertain, as the oldest members of this generation are still in school, college, or have only spent a few years in the workforce. Generation Z has watched their parents struggle with debt and tend to invest more time in learning about finances and building savings.
As with Gen Y, the young adults of Gen Z struggle with high student loans and face an uncertain future when it comes to financial stability and affording mortgages.
Gen X and Gen Y are not as common generational terms as Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Generation Z.
The term “Millennial” originated as an alternative to the title Generation Y and frequently refers to anyone born from 1980 and onward who did some or most of their growing up with technology. This word is common in the media or in conversation as almost anyone who was born after the Baby Boomers or Generation X.
Terms can be confusing and are not definite. While generational terms are not scientific, many individuals, companies, and organizations use them to differentiate between specific generations and to enforce the idea of belonging to unique groups.
The Future Of Generation Names
The newest development of generational titles in Generation Alpha, which is gaining traction in the media.
Generation Alpha is sometimes said to have begun in 2010 or from 2015 and onward. Since Generation Alpha is only just born to 10 years old, it is too early to say what the financial future and general lifestyle will be like for the youngest generation.
While each generational term may help to identify the differences between each age group, not everyone fits the stereotypes and people continue to change throughout the years as they adapt to a technologically advancing world.