Apparently if you have a child born into Generation Z – that is a kid born between 1995 and 2010 - you should be worried about the kind of young man or woman they'll become.
That's according to esteemed psychologist at NYU's Stern School of Business, and co-author of the book The Coddling of the American Mind, Jonathan Haidt, who is speaking in Auckland in August, reports Newstalk ZB.
Writing in Canvas yesterday, Haidt said Generation Z is ill-equipped for adulating, emotionally fragile and prone to mental health problems. They're hard to work with and easily take offense.
Before you think of this as an attack on a younger generation, it's not! Haidt also says many of the issues facing young people are the result of having to live with the repercussions of decisions made by previous generations (which aren't often made with the interests of the next generation in mind – climate change anyone?), and modern parenting. Yes folks – we've sheltered our kids and made them soft.
I understand there are particular challenges facing this generation - the housing market, a competitive job market - but I don't see these kids as snowflakes, as they are often called, at all. In fact, quite the opposite.
The University students who've been babysitting my kids for the last few years seem more ready for adulthood than my generation. Confident, capable and responsible, is how I'd describe them. They work hard at University, have part time jobs and internships, aren't afraid of the future and are more cultural competent and tech savvy than generations before.
If our kids turn out like them we'll be thrilled - we'll say job done, pat ourselves on the back, and free of that responsibility set about being irresponsible in some small way again.
My 22-year-old nephew is the Generation Z'er I know the best. He got a good job out of Uni, does long hours and weekends sometimes. He doesn't complain, works hard, and the company looks after him. It doesn't seem so different to when we started out?
Yes, we have concerning levels of depression and anxiety in our young people – our youth suicide rate is the highest in the developed world, and Māori are disproportionately represented in these statistics.
But our teen suicide rates have been a concern for decades now. The fact we're talking about this and understand it's a priority in our community is a big step in the right direction. Seeing people such as Mike King working with kids today doesn't just giving them hope, it's giving us all hope.
My point is, you can't just generalise a generation away. Telling Generation Z they're a bunch of snowflakes is utterly unhelpful. If you ask me, this generation is so much further ahead than me and my mates were back when we we're entering the work force – they're focused, sensible and conscientious. So what if they're a bit more in tune with their emotions and expectations of how they want to be treated.
Look around your own family and friends – see and celebrate these talented, accepting, empathetic tech savvy teens for who they are. Themselves.