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They’re lazy. They have no commonsense. They’re self-centered. ...

They’re, well, different.

Every generation, seemingly, has these thoughts about succeeding generations. And the critical perspective is almost always unfair.

Generation Z, defined roughly as those born between 1995 and 2010 (currently ages 8-24), is the target of many aspersions. Most persistently, older folks complain that Gen Z’ers are too locked into electronic devices and fail to appreciate and engage in the real world around them.

While that assessment isn’t baseless, it falls far short of recognizing the complex core characteristics of the age group, according to The Herald Bulletin’s Sept. 15 special report, “Gen Z: Understanding a New Generation.”

The special report was written by Anderson University students belonging to Generation Z.

If you just give them a chance, you’ll find out that many members of Gen Z have a host of redeeming qualities: they’re often practical, non-judgmental, open to other cultures and religious beliefs, politically active, self-aware and, of course, tech savvy.

Most members of this younger generation have grown up with technology in their palms and a nearly infinite world of information and virtual relationships literally at their fingertips. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

Bruce Tulgan, author of the best-selling book “Not Everyone Gets a Trophy” and founder of RainmakerThinking in Whitneyville, Connecticut, describes the impact of information technology.

“What makes Gen Z’ers different is that while they were coming of age, there was a tidal wave of information coming at them through technology that was more and more complex,” Tulgan said in an interview. “They learned how to communicate with hand-held super computers attached to their brains.”

Other voices, those of Generation Z itself, in The Herald Bulletin’s special report reached out to older generations for better understanding.

“You would think that growing up with negative feedback, we would become prone to it and block it out,” said Madelynn Ruff, a senior at Center Grove High School in Greenwood. “But I think it just makes us try harder and then become frustrated when our hard work is misinterpreted by older generations.”

As much as shaping Generation Z, social media and information technology form older generations’ views of the group. But those who have developed relationships with members of Gen Z know they have strengths, weaknesses and individual complexities that can defy stereotypes.

Just like any other generation.

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