Why Is Gen Z Aging Faster Than Millennials?

By: Olawale Ogunjimi | Published: Feb 13, 2024

We’ve all expected Gen Zs to look fresher, cuter, and younger than preceding generations. But a recent online trend has revealed the opposite.

Gen Z TikTokers are exposing their true age and shocking their viewers in the process. People are discovering that Gen Zs look older than they are. But why?

Meet the Gen Zs

Gen Zers are a generation of people who were born from 1997 to 2012. Studies have shown that this generation possesses certain common traits that set them apart from other generations.

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Millennials are the preceding generation who were born from 1981 to 1996. The Gen Alphas come after the Gen Zs. This generation of people was born from 2013 to 2024.

A Gen Z TikToker Shocks His Viewers

The discussion about Gen Zs looking older than their age was mostly fueled by TikTok. For example, one popular TikToker, Jordan Howlett, stunned his viewers and 12 million followers by revealing his age in one TikTok.

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Viewers couldn’t believe that he was 24. “I am 34 and I thought you were my age,” was one viewer’s reaction. Another viewer had always thought Howlett was about 35 years old.

Why Do Gen Zs Look Older?

Howlett wasn’t at all surprised by his viewers’ reactions. He had noticed that people in his generation looked older and had listened to other online discussions on the issue.

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A Collage of an Old Face and a Young Face

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One such discussion happened on a podcast, the “Staying Up Podcast,” that Howlett referenced in his video. The host of the podcast mentioned that Gen Zs aged faster because they were chronically online, depressed, and stressed.

What Do Experts Say?

Dr. Suzanne Ferree, a top Atlanta physician at Vine Medical Associates, confirmed the suspicion. She added that lots of Gen Zers, most of whom owned cell phones and laptops at very young ages, became desperate to meet up with social media standards.

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“I’m a Gen Xer. We never had those problems when we were younger,” she told The Daily Mail. “I didn’t even have a cell phone until I was 25. So I didn’t even know what that was like.”

Lifestyle Changes Are a Major Cause

Dr. Ferree also pointed out that there have been lifestyle changes in the past three decades. Many new habits have found their way among Gen Zers and have hastened their aging. Vaping is one example.

Young person vaping

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“There’s a lot of vaping that goes on in the Gen Z group, and that is certainly going to at least age your skin faster, if not other parts of your body,” she said.

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Stress Is a Major Factor, Too

Howlett mentioned stress as one of the primary causes of speedy aging. He believes that the increased stress, which is linked to the worsening economy and fast-paced life, is telling on his generation. Dr. Ferree also stated that biological age rises with stress.

A person in business attire appears overwhelmed and stressed, with one hand on their forehead and eyes closed, sitting in front of an open laptop in a dimly lit room

Source: Elisa Ventur/Unsplash

“In addition to that, trying to figure out what they want to do for their careers long-term, and feeling the immense amount of pressure of trying to succeed before the age of 30,” Howlett added.

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Plus Lots of Screen Time

Dr. Ferree also blamed the culture of spending lots of time seated or in one position. “Being sedentary is the smoking of this generation. Being more sedentary definitely will [make one age faster].”

Gen Z written on window

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She gave reasons: “Your muscles create these beautiful chemical messengers that tell your body to be useful when you’re exercising and particularly using your muscles. If you’re home, playing video games, being more sedentary at a computer, you’re not getting those beautiful, youthful signals.”

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Blue Lights and Less Sleep

Spending lots of time behind TV and computer screens also contributes to premature aging. Especially the prolonged exposure to blue lights.

Young person on laptop

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That blue light turns off the natural production of melatonin and the natural function of the pineal gland in the brain, which is the center of that circadian rhythm, the day-night switch,” Dr Ferree said. The same goes for the loss of nighttime sleep.

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'Poor Quality of Food'

The poorer our food quality, the faster we age, experts have said. Gen Zers came on the scene in a season that saw a major boom in the fast food industry. Processed foods have proliferated grocery shelves, and the less nutritious beverages are more popular.

Hands holding McDonald's burger

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According to Dr. Robert Friedland of the University of Louisville, “Fast food has a deleterious effect on the gut bacteria.” In turn, the condition of the gut bacteria affects our health.

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Substandard Skin Care

Although the quality of skincare products improved, Millennials had a better handle on them than Gen Zers. Many Gen Z individuals began to use skincare products at way younger ages and as a result, didn’t apply them properly.

Woman having eyelash extensions applied

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Experts have mentioned the improper use of skincare products and treatment as one of the causes of premature aging. “Overuse or unnecessary application of filler and toxins” have altered natural facial development, experts have said.

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A Lack of Purpose

Another cause of premature aging in Gen Zers has to do with emotional and mental health. Many Gen Zers struggle to find purpose in life, and Dr. Ferret strongly believes that the confusion contributes to aging.

Young person in despair looking out window

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“Not having a purpose, we know that hugely impacts geriatric patients,” she disclosed. It’s not too late for Gen Zs to steady the hands of the aging clock if they improve their habits and free themselves from societal influence.

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