We are in the midst of a generational landmark, as the first of Australia’s “Digital Integrators” (Generation Z) commence their final school exams.
Born between 1995-2009, Australia’s 4.6 million Generation Zs are almost exclusively the children of Generation X, and they are truly the 21st Century generation, with the whole of their formative years lived in this century. This is best seen through the fact that Generation Z can best be described as digital integrators – being exposed to digital technology from their early formative years, they have integrated it seamlessly into their lives compared to adults - the digital transactors, who use technology in functional, structural ways, like a tool which they pick up to use and then put back down again.
While they are today’s children and teenagers, within a decade Generation Z they will comprise 12% of the workforce. While predicted to be the most educated generation in Australia’s history (90% expected to complete Year 12 in 2015), their unique way of communicating has caused debate on whether literacy standards are declining in the classroom as text-talk and “slanguage” (slang language) infiltrates the written word.
Their grandparents, the Baby Boomers, first brought youth slang into the spotlight with words like cool, man and dude, but the youth of today draw from a larger repertoire of slang which is radically different from previous youth lexicons, compounded by new technology and opened up by a global youth culture. Generation Z could be termed the ‘cut and paste’ generation, having whole conversations using phrases they’ve picked up from movies, viral YouTube clips and other media they consume.
Here are just some of the thousands of words that have come into being over the last few years... welcome to the ABC of speaking Gen Z!
For more information on language in the 21st Century Mark McCrindle has written a book titled, Word Up; a Lexicon and Guide to Communication in the 21st Century. Visit the website here.