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DHM Research reports the youngest generation is believed to be more politically active, less social

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP FILE PHOTO - The youngsters shown here are members of Generation Z. They're tuned out of politics — yet remain happy, healthy and dedicated to friends and family.

That's the opposite of how the average Oregonian views the all-digital Generation Z, a new poll by DHM Research found.

Instead, adults perceive Gen Z as politically aware activists who don't spend much time outside. The youngest demographic has trouble forging strong relationships, according to the poll's respondents, who believe that excessive screen time likely has contributed to the cohort's feelings of anxiety and depression.

The DHM survey of 548 Oregonians was conducted between June 14 and 21, with a margin of error of 2.5 to 4.2 percent.

Here are the highlights:

• 47 percent of respondents believe Generation Z is less likely to build strong friendships than preceding generations

• 65 percent believe that Gen Z is more likely to get involved in politics

• 90 percent believe that Gen Z spends less time outdoors

• 60 percent believe that Gen Z spends less time with their families

• 62 percent have concerns about the negative effects of social media on youth

• 72 percent believe children should complete eighth grade before receiving a smartphone

Gen Z bites back

But how do Generation Zers view themselves? At 17, Tosha Kitungano is squarely within the newest demographic cohort, which generally encompasses those born in the mid-1990s to mid-2000s. The Roosevelt High School senior thinks modern technology is a tool that can be used for good or ill.

"Cell phones are a good thing when you use them for the right reasons," she said, "but being so young we don't really know what's right from wrong."

After a long day, Cleveland High School freshman Jeremy Clark likes to relax with the latest edition of Snapchat, which is populated with videos from his friends and many media companies. It's where the 14-year-old gets all his news.

"It's a really good tool to help get friends and youth motivated," he said. "What we've lost is the ability to be disconnected."

But no matter how much things change, being a Luddite will never truly go out of style. Wilson High sophomore Adi Solomon, for instance, challenges his friends to stop staring at the screen when they sit together at lunch.

"I think it's a waste of time," he said.

Social menace?

The poll also measured attitudes toward social media, which vary drastically depending on political affiliation: 46 percent of Democrats believe social media is good, compared with just 26 percent of Republicans and 30 percent for independents.

There's no agreed-upon age range for defining the different generations — though 20 years for each generation is considered the norm.

Only the very oldest members of Generation Z have tasted their first legal sip of alcohol. The cohort doesn't remember a world without wi-fi or cell phones. They learned about Sept. 11 from history books or their parents' recollections.

The youngest millennials are graduating from college or have been toiling away for years. Many in the cohort have delayed serious relationships and homeownership because they are poorer than their parents. Older millennials are eyeing their 40th birthday.

Generation X — once derided as too busy skateboarding or watching MTV to accomplish anything — have become respectable adults who write letters to the editor about e-scooters.

Some baby boomers have retired, though many continue to work. Those among the preceding Silent Generation, while too young to serve in WWII, are in their 70s or 80s.

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