When TikToker Jordan Howlett revealed his age – 26 – his followers were surprised. The content creator is used to people thinking he is older. He also believes he represents a larger trend across his generation – Gen Z is aging at a faster rate than their counterparts.

Howlett believes this is due to stress related to the current state of the world, such as the economy, inflation, and struggling to make ends meet while working a 9-to-5 job. He noticed many of his Gen Z friends look older than their age and says his friends agree.

“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,” he told Insider.

Although this theory has sparked a debate on social media, no research has proven it to be true. Some experts point to social media, beauty filters and having access to photographs of our younger selves as leading Gen Z to believe they look older than they should.

“There is a sense in which young people have forgotten what faces look like,” Renee Engeln, a psychology professor at Northwestern University and the director of the Body and Media Lab, told The New York Times.

Editing apps such as Facetune, as well as the popularization of cosmetics procedures, have made it increasingly difficult to know what influencers, celebrities, and their peers look like outside of social media.

“Rare are the examples of faces that have aged naturally,” Engeln said.


“Gen Z is so worried about turning 30, that time when you’re supposed to have everything put together,” Howlett said.

Older Gen Zers are turning 28 this year. The fear of aging and settling into adulthood is universal and has been experienced by previous generations. The difference is that this anxiety is now shared with the rest of the world.

“Your aging anxiety used to take place in the privacy of your own home or maybe with a very close friend or family member,” Engeln said. “Now it happens on TikTok, with an audience.”