What generation are you when texting? (2024)

By Catherine E. Shoichet, Alicia Johnson, James Grant and Leah Abucayan, CNN

Published June 30, 2024

How do you pick which emoji to use? Do you worry when you see a period at the end of a text? Are you puzzled by messages from your parents, kids or coworkers?

One reason why: People in different generations often text differently. It’s not an exact science, but interesting theories and trends are emerging as researchers delve into the texts and messages we send.

Take our quiz to see what your texting style says about you, and how well you understand other generations. We’ll give you a few results along the way and a final score at the end.

How would getting a message like this from your boss make you feel?

What generation are you when texting? (1)

Your coworker just sent you a hilarious message. How do you respond?

What generation are you when texting? (2)

What generation are you when texting? (3)

How do you choose which emojis to include in a text?

Gen Z: This generation tends to use and interpret emojis more figuratively or ironically than older generations. A 2022 Adobe study found members of Gen Z were significantly more likely to agree they used emoji differently than their intended meanings.

Millennials: This generation is more likely to use emoji to convey emotions, but sometimes attaches more symbolic meanings to them.

Gen X: This generation is generally more practical in their use of technology, and less likely to use emoji.

Baby Boomers: University of Ottawa researchers found this generation was less likely to use emojis and struggled to interpret some emojis, such as 😳. Others found some Baby Boomers used emojis frequently, but were unaware of potential double meanings behind them.

Keep in mind: Researchers say emojis can add important meaning to text messages, which lack the gestures and facial cues you see when talking with someone in person. But the symbols can also be misunderstood. And age isn’t the only factor that can contribute to confusion; culture, gender and evolving emoji meanings also play a role.

What generation are you when texting? (4)

There’s a traffic jam and your Uber is running late. Which text would you send?

In what circ*mstances do you write something in all caps?

What generation are you when texting? (6)

Gen Z: A recent analysis by undergraduates at UCLA found “a stronger preference in Gen Z for using messages that convey a stronger or louder tone” by using all-caps. Linguist Deborah Tannen of Georgetown University describes how her younger students use repeated letters in communication, like beginning a message “hiiiiiiiii,” to convey enthusiasm.

Millennials: Like their younger counterparts in Gen Z, this generation tends to avoid ending texts with periods. They’re also more likely to play with punctuation to convey what linguist Gretchen McCulloch calls “typographical tone of voice.”

Gen X: Texters in this oft-overlooked generation are more likely to apply traditional punctuation rules to their messages, as Miami University Management and Leadership Professor Megan Gerhardt noted in a recent LinkedIn post describing her surprise when her Gen Z students pointed out their feelings about seeing periods at the end of texts.

Baby Boomers: This group is more likely to apply the rules of formal letter-writing to their texts. Niki Tonks, a marketing expert who teaches at Weber State University in Utah, says her surveys found Baby Boomers prefer full sentences in text messages and are less likely to understand shifting nuances of punctuation.

Keep in mind: Many of us break rules we’ve learned about grammar and punctuation when we send text messages. Linguist John McWhorter argues that’s because texting is more akin to “written speech” than a formal piece of writing.

How would you feel if a romantic partner responded to a text from you by saying “K” or 👍?

What generation are you when texting? (7)

Look at your phone. How many text messages did you send and receive yesterday?

What generation are you when texting? (8)

When you send a text message, how quickly do you expect to get a response?

What generation are you when texting? (9)

Gen Z: Why send one text when 10 will do? Researchers have found texters in this generation send and receive a greater volume of messages than those in older generations. They’re also likely to expect quicker responses and worry more about delays.

Millennials: Researchers have found this generation generally sends and receive fewer texts than their younger counterparts, but their phones still spend plenty of time buzzing. Millennials send and receive a high volume of messages, and generally expect quick responses.

Gen X: This generation sends a moderate volume of text messages. And unlike their younger counterparts, they worry less about response times. Maybe they’re busy watching the new Brat Pack documentary instead?

Baby Boomers: This generation is getting a lot more conversant in texting, but they’re not quite fluent. Baby Boomers generally send and receive a lower volume of text messages than those in younger generations, and they’re not as concerned about response times.

Keep in mind: Unwritten rules shape the way different generations text each other, and how they feel about the interactions, according to Niki Tonks, a marketing expert who teaches at Weber State University in Utah. But our texting style isn’t set in stone based on our birth year. In fact, we may code-switch when we text, just like many of us do when we speak, adopting tones and approaches that are similar to the person we’re texting with, and adapting our expectations accordingly.

Read this conversation between a Gen Z son and his Gen X mom:

What generation are you when texting? (10)

Is the mom mad at her son?

The mom is just trying to be efficient and direct. This text exchange between marketing expert Niki Tonks and her son inspired her research. Her son later explained that he’d been worried she was mad because of her short replies.

What are these generations’ top 5 favorite emojis?

What generation are you when texting? (11)

Drag each group of emojis into an answer slot to match them with the generation that loves them.

Gen Z

👍 🙏 😢 ❤️ 😂

Answer:

Millennial

👍 😂 😘 🤣 ❤️

Answer:

Gen X

😂 🤣 👍 😘 😍

Answer:

Baby Boomer

😂 😭 ❤️ 💀 🥺

Answer:

These rankings of favorite emoji came from Adobe’s 2022 U.S. Emoji Trend Report. That survey also found that 74% of Gen Z emoji users say they use emoji differently than their intended meanings, compared to 65% of Millennials, 48% of Gen X respondents and 24% of Baby Boomers.

In 2022, tech company Giphy pointed to the growing use of GIFs by this generation as it asked British regulators not to block a deal for its acquisition by Meta.

What generation are you when texting? (12)

“Marketplace commentary and user sentiment towards GIFs on social media shows that they have fallen out of fashion as a content form, with younger users in particular describing GIFs as ‘for boomers’ and ‘cringe,’” Giphy said in an August 2022 filing.

How well do you understand Gen Z?

What generation are you when texting? (13)

Drag Gen Z’s texting slang to an answer slot that matches how previous generations said it.

YOLO

That slaps

Answer:

GR8

DIFTP

Answer:

ROFL

tea

Answer:

411

💀

Answer:

A recent analysis from UK tech retailer Currys listed these translations. Here’s a quick glossary of the Gen Z terms:

DIFTP This acronym is short for “do it for the plot.” It gained steam on TikTok in 2022.

Slaps This term has its roots in hip-hop and became more mainstream in the late 2010s.

💀 This emoji has come to signify “I’m dead” and is used to convey laughter.

Tea Like many words now known as Gen Z slang, this phrase originated in Black drag culture.

True or false: Millennials were the first generation to popularize smiley faces in text communication as emojis became increasingly popular.

What generation are you when texting? (14)

We actually have Baby Boomer Scott Fahlman, an emeritus professor at Carnegie Mellon University, to thank for inventing the emoticon in 1982.

What year were you born?

What generation are you when texting? (15)

Share your results:

Here are your full results:

Emojis:

Punctuation:

Style and etiquette:

Understanding others:

Editors’ Notes

How we did this: We spoke with researchers, read studies and drew upon our own personal experiences to shape the questions in this quiz. Some questions are based on research findings or echo survey questions used in studies. Others were inspired by expert interviews or anecdotal observations.

What's next: We hope this quiz sparks conversation and encourages more research into these important issues. We plan to analyze responses we receive to see how they compare with generational expectations.

What generation are you when texting? (2024)

FAQs

What generation are you when texting? ›

Millennials send and receive a high volume of messages, and generally expect quick responses. Gen X: This generation sends a moderate volume of text messages. And unlike their younger counterparts, they worry less about response times.

Which generation texts the most? ›

Younger generations default to texting for everything, while older generations have different norms. Younger people are typically the ones more used to texting than calling or other forms of communication. They may feel more open to texting longer messages, too, as well as having deeper conversations that way.

How do Gen Z text? ›

Texters who can type “fast and accurately” using one hand, on the other hand, are probably Gen Z, defined as those born between 1997 and 2012. Meanwhile, typing accurately with both thumbs is a habit that straddles both millennial and Zoomer generations, per the digital detective.

Do different generations text differently? ›

Older generations tend to use proper grammar and more formal language. They may see emojis as unnecessary, confusing, or immature. Since younger generations tend to use texting as a default communication mode, the norms of their texting is more nuanced than for older generations.

Why do Millennials prefer texting? ›

According to the article, young people prefer texts for a variety of reasons: Texts are “more convenient” and on their own schedule (76%) Texts are “less disruptive than a voice call” (63%) They “prefer to text vs.

What do Gen Z use to message? ›

Written communication for Generation Z

Your best option to get his attention is to send him a quick message. Among all digital ways of communicating, texting is the preferred choice for Generation Z employees. However, remember that this group of people is used to quick and concise content.

Are Gen Z or Millennials smarter? ›

As societal trends continue to evolve, the narrative surrounding generational intelligence unfolds with fresh perspectives. A growing discourse suggests that Generation Z (Gen Z) is endowed with higher cognitive abilities compared to their predecessors, the Millennials.

How do Gen Z say hello? ›

“Suh” – Hello (short for what's up – or “whatsup” “Fam” – Friends – short for 'family' “FamJam” – Family – short for I have no idea.

How do Gen Z say yes? ›

Bet. Simply put, this slang term means "yes." It can be used to confirm something and could be compared to the Millennial term "word."

What age is Gen Alpha? ›

McCrindle defines Generation Alpha, or Gen Alpha for short, as those born from 2010 to 2024. Currently, it is the youngest generation. With more than 2.8 million people born weekly, Gen Alpha is projected to become the "largest generation in the history of the world."

How does a millennial text? ›

He found that most Millennials type with two thumbs or use the one-handed swipe feature, while Generation Z does the same but faster. Generation X and Boomers, according to Morgan, are likely to use one finger and add their index finger once they reach a certain age.

What is proper texting etiquette? ›

Don't text anything confidential, private, or potentially embarrassing. Don't be upset if your text doesn't get an immediate response—you can't know for sure when the recipient will read the message. Think of texting as a conversation: If you would respond in the conversation, then respond in the text.

Why do Boomers love phone calls? ›

The Generational Divide

Phone calls are often the preferred mode of communication for Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, values the personal touch and finds comfort in hearing the voice of a loved one or colleague.

Why is texting unhealthy? ›

Excessive Texting

For instance, texting non-stop could indicate that one partner is clingy and needy or that they are feeling insecure in the relationship. While this is harmful to the person doing the excessive texting, it can also be smothering to the person on the receiving end.

What generation prefers instant messaging? ›

Gen Z prefers communication methods that are instant, visual, and mobile. They are more likely to use messaging apps, social media, and video calls for business communication. For Gen Z, a business phone is often a smartphone equipped with a variety of communication apps, allowing them to stay connected from anywhere.

Is calling her better than texting? ›

Phone calls can create stronger bonds compared to text messaging, so they're great for communicating with friends and family or when building relationships with clients, customers or business networking associates. Another reason you might want to choose calls is if you want the ability to video chat with someone.

Which generation reads the least? ›

The survey found that the Silent Generation read the most books (an average of 25 per year) and Generation Z read the least (an average of eight).

Does Gen Z read more than Millennials? ›

It's obvious to think that millennials and Gen Z are tech-savvy and massively influenced by social media. And so, they don't read much. But to your surprise, Gen Z and millennials are avid readers. In fact, millennials (born between 1980 and 1995) are reading the most.

Is Gen Z the most active generation? ›

It found that 84% of regular exercisers are working out a minimum of three times per week, with younger generations leading the way. Gen Z are the most active, with 87% of this demographic exercising three or more times per week, with Millennials trailing just behind them.

What generation is the greatest silent? ›

The Greatest generation, those born 1901 to 1927, are known to have been born and come of age in the “American Century” of economic growth, technological progress, and mostly military triumph. The Silent generation describes adults born from 1928 through 1945.

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