Reflections on iGen

Author: Nicole Wadden Garland, University of Prince Edward Island

Hello All,

Nicole here, reporting from the freezing cold, ”Why do I live where air hurts my face?”  University of Prince Edward Island – I know all of you other AACUSS members get it! This article is a little food for thought. I want to preface it by saying I am no expert in this area, just something that I have been thinking about and was wondering if you are all thinking about it, too.

Recently, I have been hearing a lot about the upcoming generation of students known as Generation Z or more commonly, iGen. 

For reference purposes here is a bit of a guideline on Generations:

Baby Boomers: 1946-1964

Generation X: 1965-1979

Millennials: 1980-1994

iGen: 1995-2012

(Marcos, 2017)

Based on what I have read, iGen are the first generation who has spent the majority of their lives in a time where the internet is readily accessible, everyone has a smartphone, and screens are a part of their regular everyday lives. So what does this all mean?

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I attended a session titled, "Teaching iGen: Considerations for the Next Decade of University Instruction," presented by Dr. Dany MacDonald, Chair of Applied Human Sciences here at UPEI. The talk was based on a book by Jean Twenge, titled, "iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood — and What That Means for the Rest of Us." It was very interesting to hear some of the characteristics gathered on this generation. According to Twenge’s research, this generation is:

·         Safer

·         Less likely to drink, date or engage in high-risk behaviour

·         Less likely to get their driver’s license until later in life

·         Less likely to participate in paid work while in school

·         Concerned about emotional safety

·         Not as confident versus their predecessors, the millennials

Twenge also reports that in general this generation:

·         Is less likely to have unrealistic expectations about work (versus  millennials)

·         Have slower and more protected upbringings (i.e. less independent)

·         Does not tolerate inequality (treat people as individuals and promote equality for all)

·         Is not getting enough sleep

·         Report higher risk factors for suicide

·         Have higher reports feeling unhappy

·         Socialize on their phones instead of in person

(Marcos, 2017; Twenge, 2018)

In the workplace, there are reports that:

·         The techniques that worked to recruit and retain Millennials won’t work with iGen

·         This generation is more willing to work overtime hours

·         This generation wants to do work that is meaningful and purposeful

·         This generation may not be looking to “climb the corporate ladder”

(Twenge, 2018)

With regards to postsecondary education, one article I read indicated that this generation of students is more likely to go to college and get a job versus the idea of getting an education. Part of our job as educators and Student Affairs professionals may be to bring these students around to the idea that an education is useful on its own but we will also need to keep their practical goals in mind when reaching and teaching them (Twenge, 2018).

One of the biggest questions that came out of the session I attended by Dr. MacDonald, was how do we need to engage with these students differently than the generations that came before? Whether it be in recruitment, student supports, teaching, etc.? I don’t have the answer but am hoping to engage in more conversation with my colleagues about this topic and encourage you to do the same. Feel free to share any and all revelations!


Marcos, A. (2017). Move over Millennials: How ‘iGen’ is different from any other generation. Retrieved from

Twenge, J.M. (2018). Meet iGen: The new generation of workers that is almost everything millennials aren’t. Retrieved from