This generation, Gen Z, has far too often been condemned for “having it easy” as a result of technology’s presence. Many have heard sentences from “Kids these days don’t know the world outside of their screens!” to “It’s all because of that damn phone!” at least once in their lives.
Largely, the older generations think that the world was much better without the internet; the younger generations fail to even recall a time without the internet. Thus, the topic of technology has created a divide between the elders and the youth who have very contrasting opinions and perspectives upon technology and the internet.
The elders claim that it makes us dependent and kills our creativity, while the younger people believe that it has made our lives easier, enhanced our thinking and helped us become more open-minded. Both sides of the argument have fairly valid points— the elders and our parents have seen us glued to the screens. For instance, my mom is giving me The Look as I type on my laptop. On the other hand, Gen Z is particularly accepting of changes and inclined to humanity, liberty and freedom rather than political beliefs, racial differences and more.
However, the argument becomes baseless when one realizes that they are accessing this article, among others, on their gadgets, using technology. In the pandemic, we have also seen how useful technology is with our online classes and tests; the biggest corporations are functioning all thanks to technology today. Without such modes of communication the students, businessmen and many others would have suffered greatly.
This leaves the argument to be about the younger generations being dependent, un-thinking and lazy. However, looking at activism and leadership, we see that the younger generation is breaking the rules of the society which have been prominent and rigid for our parents and elders while also progressing quickly to a digital era of life.
Still, I would emphasize that it is important to look at the youth who have ruined themselves due to technology to understand what is being done wrong to correct it. Being surrounded by gadgets and attracted by it, we are prone to become obsessed.
The question is: Are we addicted? Do we not realize that there is a world outside of our screens? Most of the youth would disagree with the notion that they don’t look up from their screens. They do not deny that some problems do root from social networking and gadgets, but technology alone isn’t to blame for every problem that they have.
Problems such as constant comparison of oneself, lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem often develop from excessive use of social media. Stalking, online paedophiles and online predators are other issues to be greatly concerned about when it comes to social networking.
However, if one is losing interest in school or is getting bullied and fails to stand up for themselves, it is most likely a bigger problem than the damn phone.
Another problem that comes with “tech-blaming” is that most of the serious problems aren’t taken seriously. Topics of mental health, any kind of abuse, cyberbullying and more should be taken care of in all seriousness rather than by taking away one’s phones. Instead of trying to cut technology and the internet from the picture entirely, the children should be taught about the dangers lurking online and to avoid them. They need to be taught to call for help when they need it and to face cyberbullying as well as to talk to their parents about what is troubling them. This way, the potential problems could be solved and damage could be prevented without taking away the child’s luxury.
It isn’t possible to keep children and teens away from it all, so we must focus on making it as safe as possible for them.
Additionally, this is more or less the same problem that our elders faced. The difference is that they would spend hours and hours reading books and talking to their friends. Today’s generation, on the other hand, has such connectivity that they don’t always need to get out of their homes or even let go of their phones to read a book or meet their friends.
The older generation is less likely to adapt to and accept changes the way the younger generation does since the former have grown up in a rather rigid environment with many limitations on their liberty and freedom.
It was the environment which influenced their mindset, and since Gen Z has grown up in a liberal and open-minded environment, they are accepting rather than conservative.
Thus, in this fast-moving world of technology, a misunderstanding arises that it is destroying the younger generation. However, destruction is not caused by the internet itself but because of lack of self-discipline in the user, regardless of whether they are young or old. A knife is meant to be used for domestic and horticultural purposes but it is also used for murder. Same way, social media is meant to enhance life and to help connect people all over the world. However, it is very much capable of ruining one’s life if used carelessly.
Media, be it news or Instagram, helps most children and teenagers to connect with people, discover activities and hobbies as well as keep up with global current affairs. This generation has grown up much faster because of how aware they are of the world around them self-awareness is what makes Gen Z different from our elders.
Therefore, the concept of the younger generation growing up pampered and in a sheltered environment is but a poor optimization of the bigger picture.
The point is that the younger generations need to be taken seriously and not condemned for the privileges they were born into. If the next generation doesn’t have privileges over Gen Z, it means that Gen Z did not progress and develop as a race; this is more alarming than the youth being lazy or privileged.
If a new generation is not progressing and does not have the privileges the older generation didn’t have, the concern should be about the growth and development of the human race instead.
Human growth works in such a way that the generation after us should have privileges that we currently don’t. To put into perspective, my parents wouldn’t want my brother and me to have a childhood and resources worse than they did. That does not make us privileged, it is the proof of human development through generations.
And if one wants their kids to have a childhood and resources worse than theirs, spare them the suffering and don’t have kids.
Gen Z has its own set of struggles just as the older generations did.
While the older generations struggled to break their limitations set by the thinking of their times, the Gen Z are responsible for whether or not our planet survives since they have the most access to vast knowledge and news.
While the older generations struggled to own property and get stable jobs, the Gez Z faces an even tougher and larger competition for employment.
Moreover, Gen Z, from any country or circumstances face challenges which didn’t exist before. Thanks to the connectivity today, we grew up earlier and are more self-aware of the many issues social, cultural and political alike which need to be handled assertively. The youth have accomplished feats which seemed impossible for teenagers with activism, freedom and leadership skills in any and every field. From dunking on the head of the most powerful country in the world with nothing but an app and mutual desire to do what’s right to setting off worldwide protests for climate change, women’s rights, BlackLivesMatter, children’s rights, each move made leaves a mark of our leadership in the news, the media as maybe even the history textbooks of the future.
That being said, it is just as ignorant to call all our elders conservative as it is to blame technology for all of the youth’s problems. We need to understand that not the entirety of the older generations is conservative supremacists. And if some of them are, it is our responsibility to help open their minds to a world they never had the opportunity or the freedom to explore.