Understanding the iGeneration

Understanding the iGeneration

Researchers are discovering that the iGenerations (iGen’ers), individuals born after 1995 and also known as Generation Z, are struggling with unprecedented levels of anxiety and depression never before seen in previous generations.  It is important for mental health professionals to understand the unique characteristics of this rising generation of children, teens and young adults to address their specific mental health needs. 

Here are some facts about the iGen’ers:

  • They are the first generation to be born entirely within the age of the internet. 

  • They are the first generation to enter adolescence with a smart phone in their hands.

  • The generational label of ‘iGen’ comes from ‘i’ for internet, ipod or iphone.

Jean Twenge PhD, author of the book iGen, examined the exhaustive research that looked at the experiences of 8 million adolescents from 1976 to 2016 and discovered that compared with previous generations, IGen’ers:

  • Grow up more slowly

  • Are less interested in sex and relationships

  • Are less likely to drink alcohol as teens but there is an increase in marijuana use

  • Value feeling ‘safe’ both physically and emotionally

  • Get their driver’s licenses later

  • Primary social activity is social media/technology

  • Not going out as much with friends but more likely to go out with their parents

  • Less likely to work while in high school

  • Less religious

  • Spend less face to face time with their peers

  • Spend more leisure time alone texting or online

  • Are more inclusive regarding gender, race and LGBTQI issues, and social justice issues are important to them.

Twenge also reports that iGen teens who spend a lot of time on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and their devices can leave them feeling isolated and disconnected from others.  In essence, more screen time can lead to more unhappiness, less in-person social interactions and less sleep, which contributes to higher levels of depression, general anxiety and social anxiety.  It is important that mental health professionals be prepared to assist youth and young adults with these specific issues to ensure a bright future for them.


Twenge, J. M. (2017).  IGen: why todays 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).  New York: Atria Books.