Saturday, January 31, 2015

10 Tips for Understanding Kids in 2015

Ford published an article "10 Trends You Better Pay Attention to for 2015." Their purpose to understanding Gen Z is to understand their consumer or soon to be consumer -- so they can target marketing to elicit a response and make $$$.

That's easy to see, but this article made me a bit reflective...

As parents, mentors and teachers, our intent should be the same -- understand them so we can present what it's important in a way that elicits a response. Jesus' parables and miracles were much the same way. His first act was to turn water to wine -- enough said. I'm guilty of spending so much time and effort trying to get "young-ins" to understand instead of first understanding them and preparing to hit my target with a message that resounds with them.

1. " 'Good things come to those who act.' Their dream is to make an impact on the world, and they aren't going to let anything stop them from doing just that."

Calling out directions from the sidelines won't work. They must see us actively involved in loving and serving others before they will even glance our way. The fastest way to seem a hypocrite to today's young people is to be caught doing nothing. Put down our cell phones and look up. Grab a shovel, grab a map, grab a serving spoon...just do it. Even we old folks know that phrase.

2.  "Members of Gen Z reject the status quo and conventional wisdom, and they enjoy going against the grain." 

Previous generations would treasure it based on heritage. Not so much. Social media and globalization have instilled the need to feel like they are paving their own way. The good news is they aren't so concerned about doing what everyone else is doing. This courage can prove to be so valuable when it comes to choosing to do the right thing. Do what pleases Jesus. We have to introduce them to the freedom of that. 

3. "Failure is considered among the members of Gen Z to be a badge of honor--it shows that you're willing to push the envelope and take risks"

Google "epic fail" if you don't understand. This generation has been raised to exploit and laugh at failures that in the past would cause one to turn red and consider hiding in their locker. While we tend see the audacity of this, imagine the good we could do if we weren't held back by fear.

4. "Gen Z doesn't like to haul purses or wallets or messenger bags to carry their essentials along with them"

One word -- although the teacher in me says it's technically two words - Smartphone. Get where they are. Learn to use it. Teach them to use it responsibly. Show them how a smartphone can make them dumb. Recognize how a smartphone can enhance their life. Download the Bible, a science App, a budgeting app, an exercise tracker.... 

5. "They have everything they need to access in the palm of their hand." 

How do you make a presence in the digital world that gets the Word to them? Second to that, there's a premonition in the more mature Gen Z that says they know how to put it down when maybe some previous generations don't. Now in our defense --- it just takes us longer to figure out to pay a bill or send or tweet or post or whatever else you can do on there. However, I think we are seeing a shift. For 2015 when a young person is talking to me, my commitment is to drop the phone or close the laptop like a hot potato. Could just change the culture of a home, school, or a generation. One kid at a time.

6. "The 1950s ideal of the nuclear family--a husband, a wife, and two kids--has evaporated"

I feel the heaviness and concern that you feel. I feel the sense of panic to want to preserve the family. I want to put them in front of the TV and watch everything from The Cosby Show to Leave it to Beaver and Dennis the Menace and even Little House on the Prairie. But, hang on here for a moment....

How about King David's family? Abraham's family? Our country's founding counted on the blending of families when illness and hardship took spouses out too often. Then there's those like Babe Ruth, Cher, Steve Jobs, and my own Cowboy -- they grew up in foster homes. What made the ideal family of the 50's ideal? It wasn't the number of people in the family. It was the role they played and the way they interacted. They laughed together. The kids were ornery and the parents disciplined with grace and logic and wit. They ate meals together and they taught each other how to do things. They helped out around the house. Uh-oh...

I sense I've been rambling so just go to some of my other posts like this...

7. "According to the report, 26 percent of teen social media users say that they post fake information on their profiles to protect their privacy."

I hear of this all the time. Teens feel the need to have fake birthdays and locations in lieu of privacy. What if we could inspire them to share just what is safe with the people it's safe to share. Again, don't be a social media dummy. Get where they are and pay attention. (Unless of course according to #5 they are trying to talk to you and then in that case drop it) Yikes. This is going to be tricky.

8. "Despite the fact that there are millions of articles available on the topic of health and well being, people are sicker, fatter, and less healthy than ever."

Well this makes #1 easy. When is the last time you asked a kid to go for a walk with you because you wanted to spend time with them. Shoot hoops, walk a balance beam, swim, whatever it takes. Especially with boys you have to use the "walk and talk" method. That's hard to remember. After all, I'm a girl.

One last thought. Kids are eating the food available in our fridges and cabinets. Hmmm.

9.   "They are formalizing escapism around taking sabbaticals from the world, scheduling "mindfulness" classes, and participating in particularly daring (and sometimes outrageous) activities."

Wrap your mind around that. Escapism. Our dads watched football. Moms took bubble baths. Grandma's "counted chickens." They see a need for taking a break. Look around the house and decide what you can live without - (a lot) and take a trip, go camping in the backyard, learn something new. Yes -- if you haven't done this before --- it's going to be awkward and they are going to growl. Oh well -- do it anyway.

10. "Gen Z is more mobile, and less tied to place, than any previous generation. While 80 percent of Millennials expect to work abroad during the course of their careers, chances are high that the percentage is even greater for the members of Gen Z."

Let that sink in -- more than 80% will travel abroad. I look at my classroom and think....hmmm. I look at my kids and get teary. We live in a very rural area. I run into people each week that have someone in their family traveling abroad. It's real. The world is out there. We need to teach kids how to learn about it reliably, how to understand how each country and culture evolves. We need to teach them how our country has developed and the challenges it faces. There's an old school of thought -- "why would I need to go anywhere else -- I live in the best place on earth." While I agree with the attitude of gratitude  -- see #2. They have to see for themselves. And, guess what? They just might make our country a better place by the knowledge and experience they bring back. 

What trend do you see for Gen Z in 2015?

If the marketing gurus are going to spend time and money targeting our future -- shouldn't we?

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