Generation Z is challenging the notion that caution and responsibility come with age.
More than 8 in 10 (83%) Gen Zers, those who are ages 16 to 23, said they’re following pandemic safety precautions to create a better future, according to new research by global public opinion firm The Harris Poll.
Gen Zers are also more focused on the welfare of others than the many ways the pandemic is affecting them personally.
An altruistic approach to the coronavirus pandemic
There’s no denying the pandemic has taken an emotional toll, as 3 in 4 Gen Z respondents said the uncertainty is creating a significant amount of stress. In fact, an earlier survey found Gen Z workers were most likely to seek mental health services during the pandemic.
Yet, according to The Harris Poll survey, the vast majority (81%) of the respondents between the ages of 16 to 23, said they’re stressed about the health of their family members and friends, while 75% were stressed about the country as a whole.
They were less stressed by the pandemic’s impact on their day-to-day lives. For example:
- 67% were stressed by missing key milestones such as graduations
- 46% were stressed out about missing out on traveling
A majority of the Gen Z respondents have concerns about how the pandemic will impact their long-term professional success, with 68% worried about their prospects of finding a job or advancing their career during the COVID-19 crisis, and 63% worried about falling behind in school.
The crisis has also led some workers in general to rethink their careers and how their career paths fit in with their personal lives.
Gen Z choosing to be proactive
Despite the anxiety some may be feeling, Gen Zers are taking actions to protect themselves from the coronavirus. When asked which safety precautions they’re taking:
- 79% said wearing a mask in public
- 77% said staying home if they feel sick
- 61% said washing their hands
- 58% said staying six feet apart from others
- 51% said cleaning surfaces daily
- 50% said avoiding touching their face
Respondents also expressed a willingness to make sacrifices now if it would ultimately allow them to get back to socializing in person sooner.
An overwhelming 86% said they would wear masks indoors for all social interactions and 85% said they would take online courses instead of in-person classes if that would bring an earlier end to the pandemic. Many were willing to embrace stay-at-home measures, with 82% saying they would stay at home as much as possible and only leave the house for essentials if that would make a difference.
Some Gen Zers remain skeptical
No group is a monolith: 38% of Gen Zers question whether taking precautions will keep them safe. Among those who don’t follow safety precautions:
- 48% said they forget
- 36% said they don’t have to because they’re healthy
Yet most are vulnerable to peer pressure, as 91% of respondents admit that they would be more likely to wear a mask in public places if everyone else was wearing a mask.
Overall, a majority of Gen Z respondents (80%) said they wished more of their contemporaries would follow pandemic safety recommendations.
Methodology: The Harris Poll surveyed 1,048 Americans between the ages of 16 and 23 between Aug. 10-12, 2020.