There are six distinct American generations to date. The Greatest Generation consisted of the Americans grew up to fight World War II. Then there is the generation of the Baby Boomers. Generation X came after, followed by Generation Y and there is us, the largely discussed Millennials. Our age group has received a ton of criticism over the years (yes, I know we procrastinate and love to binge-watch Netflix, but we aren’t lazy!), and I think it is about time that the limelight be moved over to the sixth and latest untitled crop of children born after 2002.
For the purposes of this blog, I will refer to those born after 2002 as Generation Z. Generation Z is an age group that is constantly worried about what’s happening on the Internet. CNN recently conducted a study called “#Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens,” which was about social media use among teens. For starters, they estimated that some 13-year-olds check social media over 100 times a day. They have a compulsive need to habitually keep tabs on their social media accounts. Furthermore, the distinction that most of us pre-2002’ers keep between our real life and our social media life is a line that is rapidly diminishing for Generation Z. 13-year-olds these days take the phrase “sharing is caring” a little too seriously, by taking more than 200 photos just to get the right one for their Instagram accounts and constantly updating their statuses, describing the Frappuccino that they just bought. Basically, the new generation is all too comfortable with perpetually using electronics.
It is upsetting to see my younger counterparts sitting in restaurants with their phones out, snapping selfies and texting without really enjoying the moment. Yes, I too used to use my phone excessively, until I realized that I wasn’t communicating with the people around me. It was surprising to find myself yearning for my youth, where electronics didn’t influence my life with such intensity. I miss the days when I would have to call up my friends using the home phone, and in turn have to converse with their parents. Relationships back then seemed more long lasting to say the least. Now, as the study reveals, people can conveniently hide behind a screen and fake their personalities. Somewhere along the way, these children will lose relevant interpersonal relationship skills and the ability to project their real selves to the people around them.
When I was four or five years younger, I never would’ve thought that I would one day blog about why it is imperative for us youngsters to get off of our electronics and experience the real world. It feels slightly hypocritical to pass off judgment on the habits of the newer age group. It is important to understand that unlike Millennials, Generation Z is a bunch of digital natives. Essentially digital natives are human beings that were born when smart phones, computers, and the Internet were part and parcel of life. While I got my first phone (a Nokia slider), I was 13. The phone had no Safari and no apps, but I was as content as could be. These days, babies are seen operating iPad’s with a greater expertise than me! Case-in-point, this baby had trouble understanding the operating system of a magazine. She is seen relentlessly pressing on the pages, and getting puzzled when nothing pops up. However, when she is given an iPad, she is good to go.
These days, I often find myself sharing the sentiments of my parents. I suppose this is because the divide between generations often reduces when they have a common agenda against the rising, upcoming generation. I find it hard to believe that the digital era will ever slow down, and new children born will find their dependency on electronics and the Internet increasing with every passing day.