'We are Generation Z, we're misunderstood but this is who we are'

By Nicholas Rotherham
Newsbeat reporter


Newsbeat has commissioned the BBC's biggest ever survey of the attitudes of 16 to 22-year-olds and found a generation wanting to fight back against a perception from older people that they're "lazy" and "social media obsessed".

In fact, it's a group which believes it prioritises family and education over going out and the internet.

It's a generation more optimistic about its future than older generations think it should be - and one which sees itself as hard-working and creative.

We've talked to four people from Generation Z to see what they believe, what drives them and what they fear.

Charlotte Danks says young people need an opportunity

Charlotte Danks, who's from Newquay in Cornwall, says she decided to start her own business selling cut-price food to locals after being laid off repeatedly.

The 22-year-old says she always wanted a career where she could help her community - but it hasn't been easy.

"I've had a lot of stick," she says. "I've had people spit in my face. I've had people throw products at me.

"But at the end of the day I'm helping my community and I've got a lot of support behind me."

Charlotte opened her first 25p Affordable Foods store in Newquay but now has others in St Austell, Bude, Bodmin and Truro.

She says older generations who think her generation is lazy are wrong.

"If our generation's lazy, then every generation is lazy. We all want something, but we're all fighting for the same thing.

"I think people my age need to get more of an opportunity and a chance to prove ourselves."

Ife Grillo says Generation Z is worried about what the future will bring

Eighteen-year-old Ife, from Hackney in east London, was a member of England's winning team at last year's World Schools Debating Championships in Germany and used to be the youth MP for Shoreditch.

Despite his achievements, he says he still suffers from anxiety.

And he says many people in Generation Z have mental health issues because they're unsure what the future will bring.

"We grew up in a generation which felt really insecure for a number of reasons.

"We're constantly told things are going badly. So you're aware there's a housing crisis, you're aware you're going to be in debt and you have no idea how you're going to find success.

"I feel like I can't plan my life."

Declan says younger generations are happy to live at home

Declan James is from Selby in North Yorkshire, is in the merchant navy and lives with his mum and dad, his gran and granddad and his girlfriend.

His grandfather has Alzheimer's and he takes him to a singing group which helps him cope with the disease.

"It cheers him up and puts him in a good mood. It's something he enjoys doing and I don't know whether you'd call it a coping strategy, but all we know is that he likes it, so we'll do it.

"[But] the banter is still there and it's great to grow up with that. I'd like to think of myself as a good person and it comes from the whole family unit."

Jack says young people are more accepting when it comes to gender

Jack Raynsford is a cosplay enthusiast from Surrey and says they became Jack just under three years ago.

"I think what non-binary means to me, is distancing myself from the expectations. So if you're male you should be one way, if you're female you should be another.

"It's me going, 'I'm not either of those. I don't want to be either of those. I'm just going to be here in the middle being me.'

"Our expectations and our roles of, 'This is what women do, this is what men do. We can't go outside that' is incredibly limiting.

"It's quite useful to have this shift and this understanding of non-binary genders so people can really think about what their gender means to them and what makes them happy, rather than what they're expected to do."

The Ipsos research is based on replies from 3,007 people - 1,003 from Generation Z, 660 people in Generation Y, 667 in Generation X and 677 baby boomers.

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