Generation Z excels at multitasking, interactivity, spatial skills, and have remarkable visual acuity. These skills do not always transfer well with non-screen portions of reality. The on screen experience of members from Generation Z undermine their taste and capacity for building knowledge and developing their critical thinking skills.
When the journalist, bloggers, or scientists compare generations, one topic will now always be analyzed: technology. Technology can be known as the techniques, processes, or what can be embedded in machines to allow for operation without detailed knowledge of their workings. The most abstruse forms of technology are at our fingertips, but how harmful are they towards Gen Z? Born after 1996, iGen’s has become the first generation to grow up with instant access to the world wide web in the comfort of their homes. One subject that brings attention towards the helpful — or harmful — effects of technology, is the incomparably lower attention span between Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Z. George Beall writes in the Huffington Post, “Today ‘relevant’ is constantly being refined and Gen Z lives in a world of continuous updates. Gen Z processes information faster than other generations thanks to apps like Snapchat and Vine. Thus their attention span might be significantly lower than Millennials”(Beall). Research shows that the average teen spends nine hours on their phone a day. Spending vast amounts of time looking at a phone, computer, or TV screen, our brains are accustomed to the instant gratification of the flashing screen in front of our face. Many believe the mobility and accessibility of technology nowadays have made people less responsible yet persistent. These “helpful” gadgets have eliminated the need to train one’s mind to memorize and plan ahead. Instead, just grab a smartphone to quickly calculate something, or schedule an appointment, or search for needed information on Google. In August of 2017, Jyothsna Bhat, who has a doctoral degree in psychology, posted a report on the National Alliance of Mental Health which brought concern towards children’s health. “ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder for kids in the U.S. … What is more concerning is that the prevalence of ADHD increased by about 35% from 2003 to 2011 alone”(Bhat). Kids these days are glued to their phones, and they have no clue how much it is corrupting their minds. Technology can make our brains adapt to instant gratification and weaken our focus, and end up causing one’s brain damage.
We are fortunate to be living in the age of technological wonders. Scientific breakthroughs and technological novelties draw as much public attention as news about wars, political scandals, and celebrities. In a way, scientists and developers have become celebrities themselves: Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Stephen Hawking, and many others—these people who are or were rock stars in the world of science and technologies, which is making the world more connected. Gen Z-ers are birthing new ideas and theories, that cause the world to expand and advance because they have the access to platforms like Google that broaden their mind with only one click. Post-Millennials have grown with technology surrounding them to the point they, “…have more in common with their global peers than they do with adults in their own country.” Having quick access to the world has developed these young adults to acquire advance ideas and ways of processing information. Society can see the dreadful events that happen in the Middle East, or the benevolent people in Madagascar, due to the rapid rates at which news stories get posted on the intranet.
Middle and high school students have become conscious about how they have an impact on real-world issues and knowing that their voice can be heard as an individual. The associate director of the National Scholastic Press Association, Gary Lundgren, has noticed that the younger generation has, “…shown great interest in covering national issues at the local level, looking at #MeToo, mass shootings, the opioid crisis, body awareness, and vaping, and in some cases educating their parents”(Lundgren). Adolescents tend to join forces when melancholic events happen in their community. An illustration of this happened around 4 years ago, “…students at Walter Johnston High School in Montgomery County, Maryland, pushed for more mental health classes after a classmate died by suicide”(Strauss). Students are becoming aware of the hardships their friends could be going through, and they want to ensure that they know that they did something that could have possibly saved something you could never get back ? a life. Often teenagers no matter what genre is guided (or misguided) by peer pressure. In today’s society, parents are struggling with providing teens with advice because some parents can not relate to these intense issues their children are going through. Possessing the insight of knowing what changes need to be made to protect others’ health is a level of wisdom that no developing generation has ever had.
Blogger, Ryan Jenkins, calls himself “The Next Generation Speaker”, to which he writes, “Generation Z are looking for individuality because they were born social (92% of children in the U.S. have a digital footprint) and everyone has done everything (at least that’s what many individual’s social media accounts would have you believe). Seeking uniqueness in the brands they do business with, future employers, and their leaders is a priority”(Jenkins). While I appreciate Mr. Jenkins opinion, I must disagree. During my lifetime, I have attended three different public schools. I have witnessed first hand that most people tend to dress, talk, and act like the person sitting next to them. Gen Z-ers tend to wear name brands and styles that are trendy, talk the same “slang”, and share the same memes (a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users). Individualism and intelligence are usually compared closely together, because obtaining different ways of thinking from your peers, will grow your mind. Unfortunately, individualism is one characteristic that Post-Millennials do not fully grasp. At least not yet.
While the oldest iGen-ers would be 24 years old this year, we have come to an understanding that going to college is not essential to being successful. Marty Nemko, who is a career coach, and has been interviewed by numerous notable forms of media, says that “…almost half aren’t graduating—- 41% don’t graduate even if given six years!”(Nemko). Not graduating from high school or college has always had a negative meaning, but this generation is changing that around for everyone. Being smart with your money is a characteristic that’s important to this generation, and that’s the main reason most of them are not going to college. These young adults recognize that they can have their dream job without spending the money to get the highest level of education. It is important to have a steady job and to make sure you can make a living for yourself. There are really great jobs you can get with and without a degree, so there should be no shaming of either choice. Determining the best education, whether it’s college or real life experience, to achieve your life goals and be the best you, is a really hard choice, but doing what is best for you is necessary.
So, is Generation Z the dumbest or smartest generation? Is technology turning our minds to mush or allowing us to truly make the world a better place? Has this generation lost all compassion for others or do we use today’s tools to make the lives better for our fellow students, citizens and people around the world? Needless to say, Generation Z is the smartest generation who doesn’t wait for things to happen – they want it to happen NOW; stands on their own…
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