There are many discussions on when Generation Y ends and when Z begins, but it's around the years 1996-2000. Being born in 1999, and being Worcester Baptist Church's Youth Worker, I am a Generation Z Youth Worker.
I've drafted and redrafted this blog post many times in an effort to make it tidy, but still my thoughts seem scattered. In essence, this blog post is about the high and lows of being an 18 year old, Generation Z Youth Worker.
When it comes to social media, being a Gen Z Youth Worker can be a massive pro. Generally, it gives me an added insight to this generation that perhaps a 30+ year old youth worker wouldn't have. I understand how Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook works, all without it being explained to me by a Young Person. I understand why young people want to keep their 'streak'* with a person, even if they find it tiring or annoying. I understand repeatedly checking how many likes the last post got compared to a friend's. I understand the positives and negatives of modern day social media, not because I've read up on the research, but because I've grown up with it.
I find being a Gen Z youth worker really interesting when it comes to research. The research about Generation Z - the young people I'm leading- is also about me. For example, Youth For Christ did research in 2016 and found that 94% of Gen Z use social media on a daily basis, yet 67% of those surveyed recognised it as being their biggest negative influence. I find it so interesting that this research both informs my youth practice, as well as telling other older youth workers about me.
I think being Generation Z impacts what I teach and how I teach it. For example, Youth For Christ's research found that Generation Z's biggest concern was school and exams, the second was what other's thought of them, and the third was their appearance. As Generation Z, I'd agree with this. As a youth worker, this research would inform what I teach.
Similarly, Youthscape did research called 'Losing Heart', and in it they discussed what young people want to talk about VS what the Church is talking about.
The top things Churches were talking to their young people about was the basic beliefs of the Christian faith, prayer, personal reading of scripture, and serving the community. The bottom things were pornography/sex/relationships, same-sex attraction, drugs and mental heath.
The top things young people wanted to talk about were mental heath, how to share faith with friends, pornography/sex/relationships and same-sex attraction
Just to note: all these topics are things I do and will teach, but it's a matter of priority.
Again, as a Generation Z, I agree with this. As a Youth Worker, this research informs what I teach.
But I think the biggest challenge of being an 18 year old youth worker is the feeling of being too young and therefore not enough. There are so many incredible female youth leaders that I'm inspired and encouraged by, but I can't help but see them do youth work and think they're far more capable than I am. I know that I'm just starting out so can't expect to have a handle on everything, especially as some of these youth leaders have been doing youth worker longer than I've been alive. But they all just seem 'together'.
I was so reassuring when I heard a podcast by one of my biggest inspirations, saying that she struggles with body confidence, and another of my inspirations said she struggles with feeling not good enough to lead a new generation. It's not reassuring because I want these incredible women to feel like this, of course not, but if makes me feel a whole lot less alone.
Thank you for reading! Please let me know your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting me @rebeccasaz
* a streak is a Snapchat feature. When a person sends a photo to another person daily, an emoji of a fire appears by their name, along with the number of days photos have been sent. For example, if I sent you a photo on Snapchat every day for 30 days, on your screen would be, "Becca *fire emoji* 30"