How are your teenagers during the pandemic?
Based on my chats with my middle class friends, here’s a teen’s regular routine since the lockdown: playing virtual games or watching Netflix or Youtube videos almost the entire day, sleeping at midnight and waking up just before lunch. Rinse and repeat.
Regardless of what they do at home during this pandemic, spending endless days and nights with my teenage boys is one of my silver linings amidst this health crisis. Other than the two months of maternity leave after giving birth to them, I have never enjoyed their company this much having been a full-time working mom all my life.
With daily interaction with my two boys who are both Gen Zs – one born in 2000 and the other in 2003 – I am in awe of how they think and act. Every generation of teens is shaped by social, economic, and political events of the day. Gen Z is no different. Born in a world saturated by mobile technology and social media, it is interesting to see how they process information, react to issues, and make decisions of their own accord.
Let us take a look at some of the characteristics of middle class Gen Zs.
Gen Z is financially literate
Mommy Dianne who usually fetches our teens in school agrees with this. She said there were countless times that she heard them talking about saving money for either something that they would like to buy or participate in events such as the annual Anime convention in SMEX. To save more, her son even sells her pastries in school.
Mommy Ianne also attests to this since her teenage daughter, only 17 years-old, has a different reason for saving. The girl, already educated about investments, knows that this is the key to enjoy early retirement from full-time work.
In my case, I was surprised at my boys’ reaction when I showed them their life insurance policies about five years ago. I explained to them the annual premiums we need to pay in the next 10 years in exchange for the monetary benefits of the policy. They both hugged me and said thank you. Since high school, they save about 25-to-30% of their daily allowance. But they know how to enjoy money. Every Christmas, they spend some of their savings. My eldest buys apparel and the youngest purchases books.
Gen Z is all about technology but enjoys other people
Being born with internet and mobile phones, Gen Zs from the middle class have easy access to information which also makes their communication virtually limitless. They do a lot of research online. With virtual learning in private schools due to the pandemic, Gen Z’s affinity with technology will be put to a test.
But while they are adept with technology, Gen Z likes face-to-face interaction whether it is virtual or physical. They are social animals. My 16 year-old plays virtual games with his friends every other day since the lockdown. They also do their online college entrance examination reviews together. They just shifted their friendship online. Prior to the pandemic, they hold annual summer and Christmas get-togethers at our house since he was nine.
Gen Z exhibits more care for others
Most of the middle class Filipino Gen Zs that I know grew up with close interaction with their grandparents. If not living together, Sundays are usually devoted to visiting Lolo and Lola.
Perhaps, it is this kind of rearing that Gen Zs are respectful, sensitive, and kind to people of all ages and types. I am a living testimony to this. My parents live with us and I see how my eldest takes care of my 83 year-old mother. Their daily rituals include a kiss in the morning as soon as he wakes up, watching TV before she sleeps at night, and monitoring her blood pressure, pulse rate, etc. Since the lockdown, my mom who’s a good cook, has been holding cooking lessons for my two boys.
Outside of the family, I have seen how the group of my youngest boy dedicate themselves to caring for each other. In the past, they would even text or call me if there was something bothersome in the way my son behaved. I also remember an incident where one of the boys escaped from his home and rode his bicycle at 11:00pm to rescue one of their friends who had a serious case of depression. Their parties usually turn into counselling sessions. Gen Z is truly sensitive and kind to others and they are never wary of showing it.
Gen Z wants to be heard
With limitless information at their fingertips, Gen Z has strong opinions and wants them to be heard. I first heard the word “Boomer” from my youngest who likes to debate and show that his ideas are as valuable as other members of our family. I also see this characteristic among teens of my friends.
Daddy Aresti’s eldest son is a top debater in his university and a student leader. He is an excellent writer with deep insights on political issues. At 19, he is a beacon of hope among us elders who sometimes have gotten tired of fighting for what is good and right.
Recently, when a college student was nabbed by the police authorities for expressing discontent against a senator, a throng of Gen Zs came to his rescue. Lesson learned: Do not attempt to curtail their freedom to express themselves. They will rally behind causes that resonate with them and are never afraid to engage in political conversations.
Raising teens during lockdown
But while these characteristics define Gen Z, at the end of the day, they are our teens who must be taught our values like discipline, hard work, and love for family.
The “Hitler” in me appeared by the third week of the lockdown. With no household help, I assigned daily chores to the boys. Aside from setting the table and washing dishes for every meal, my eldest helps prepare cook lunch and dinner and cleans one of our comfort rooms once a week. The youngest waters the plants and fixes clothes every afternoon. Both should be awake by 10:00am to help in the kitchen.
This is the same for Mommy Boobie whose youngest does the laundry, cooks, and takes care of the dogs. Daddy Dagub said her two daughters are also in-charge of washing the dishes after meals.
But teaching Gen Zs to help at home is really a challenge. I have mommy friends who admit that they have not created a daily schedule of household chores for their teens since they get tired of constantly nagging them to follow. I was also at that tipping point at one point during this pandemic so my husband intervened. I still do not understand why my boys follow their father without any complaint.
How our teens will survive and come out as better individuals in this pandemic is, I believe, up to us as parents. I think the more apt question would be: How are you raising your teen in this pandemic?