What Gen Z Is Getting Right

On one of those days when everything seemed overwhelming and overlapping, I was driving my 16-year-old daughter to an appointment and at the same time I had a conference call. Ideally, I don’t make work calls while driving, but I needed my daughter’s help dialing the meeting code and dial-in information from my calendar. 

She dialed the number and I recited the code she needed to enter. It was a nine-digit pin followed by the pound sign. (Yes, I committed the number to memory in preparation.) She entered the digits and right away, the robotic voice on the other end of the line replied “You’ve entered the wrong meeting pin.”

“It happens,” I replied. “Try again.”

She punches the digits and again a robotic rejection: “You’ve entered the wrong meeting pin.”

She tries a third time, and a third time she’s entered it incorrectly. 

What’s A Pound Sign?

Listen, my daughter is brilliant. She’s a gifted leader, a stellar student, and an all-around great kid. But she could NOT enter this code correctly. I pulled over into a parking lot (now five minutes late for this call) and watched her. She was getting the numbers right, but she was hitting the star key (*) at the end of the series of digits. 


Friends, I crumbled into dust and died of old age on the spot. 

This is how the conversation went:

Me: “Lola, my darling, do you know what a pound sign is?”

Lola: “Um.. that one?” (pointing to the star key)

Me: “No my child. It’s this, right here,” pointing to the # sign.

Lola: “Mom, that’s a hash…”

A Different Experience

When I finally joined the call, I was crying with laughter at the generational miscommunication. 

We’ve tried to translate the Gen Z language before in videos. I will never tease people younger than me for their slang, because I used to confound my mother saying things were “bad” when obviously I meant they were “very, very good” as a teen. 

It’s not Lola’s fault for not knowing the antiquated phone keys. The # is most commonly used now as a hashtag to search and categorize online content. But it’s made me think of all the other ways my teens’ experience is different than mine. Of course, I mourn the fact they will never know a Gen X, technology-free summer, but there is so much they are getting right. 

5 Things Gen Z Is Getting Right 

Here are just a few things my Gen Z kids and their friends are doing better than I ever did:

1. Trying hard is celebrated: I know my experience is not everyone’s, but even in pop culture in the 80s and 90s, the “cool kids” were skipping school and cutting up in class. Now it appears teens can be “try-hards” without being teased and pushed into lockers. 

2. Comfort is key: This generation has made it socially acceptable to wear sneakers with dresses. Their jeans are loose-fitting and high-waisted. They have made comfort fashionable and for that, I am grateful. 

3. They celebrate finding a deal: I remember being obsessed with GUESS jeans in middle school. We weren’t in a position to spend that much money on denim, and there were more sensible-priced options. I so desperately wanted those jeans with the triangle on the back pocket, but knock-offs were all I had access to. I’m sure I drove my mother crazy. 

Perhaps this is just my kids’ friend group, but they are very aware of how much things cost. My daughter will save for a name-brand item, but more often she gets a thrill finding a low-cost thrift shop treasure or something from the sale rack.  Though we’ve partnered with Greenlight before (this post is not sponsored), I will tell you that this app has been a game changer for how my daughter manages her money. She has a savings goal, she’s investing every month, and she’s learning (sometimes the hard way) about budgeting. She will spend time finding ways to save money and it’s awesome. 

4. They prioritize (or at least are aware of) mental health: I credit incredible athletes like Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka for very publicly stepping out of the spotlight to tend to their mental health. Looking back, now I can see my spells of depression and anxious episodes started in my teen years, but we didn’t have the language back then to communicate it. Back then, seeing a therapist was something you’d whisper about. Now it seems everyone has a therapist like everyone has a dentist and a pediatrician. This, I think, is my favorite part of this generation. 

5. They wear sunscreen and take care of their skin: This may seem silly but it’s so important. I grew up in Florida and despite my mother’s warning, lived with a pretty consistent sunburn. I wanted to be tan even though my skin seemed to reject it. These kids have skincare routines that include sunscreen! I’m in debt to the influencer who made putting on sunscreen an actual thing for these kids. 

There are a million more things Gen Z is getting right. Yes, they have their own struggles, but they are proving to be a resilient sort, these kids. I’m so proud to be a witness to their awesomeness. 

What else do you see this generation getting right? Share with me in the comments.