What it means to grow up Generation Z
Step aside, millennials. Here we are: The newest target of generational criticism, the attention seekers, the generation of kids with their faces glued to their phones.Generation Z is synonymous with the generation growing up in the technologically developed world and this has quickly branded us with an infamous reputation. Defined as those born from the late 1990s to the early 2010s, people imagine us as entering the world with screens in our hands, tapping away on electronics before we can read.
As one of the older Generation Z kids, I feel an urge to separate myself from the younger ones. I didn't grow up with the exact same technological influence. I bought my first phone when I entered middle school, not participating in any of the major social media platforms until I was a teenager. Now, the elementary school kids I babysit are Snapchat users. Gaming systems like PlayStations and Xboxes didn't become household items until I was about eight. My family had a single bulky computer that we all shared for a sizeable part of my childhood.
At school, we didn't watch Ted Talks on the projector. My teachers would haul out the boxy TV on a cart and pop in a VCR tape so that we could pretend to be learning something from "The Magic School Bus." We started using "mini" laptops in sixth grade. Now, it would be an abomination to call those lagging machines computers. This is all a very different scene than what the current elementary and middle schoolers would describe in their classrooms.
I didn't grow up watching YouTube, which meant I wasn't engulfed in pop culture like the pre-teens today. Watching the kids that join in ridiculous dares like the Tide Pod challenge and follow YouTubers religiously makes me wonder how we can be part of the same generation. These younger kids are far more integrated into modern culture, and they even have a part in shaping it.
However, there are two sides to that truth. Some believe that hyper-exposure to technology for young children can create a distorted reality. Additionally, there is belief that kids are in a sense, wasting their childhood in front of screens. It does make me feel disappointed when some of the kids I babysit would rather watch YouTube than play a game, run around outside or read a book.
On the other hand, early involvement in culture can lead to awareness of the world around them as these kids mature. I am a strong proponent of young adults advocating for their needs and goals in the world they are growing up in. Being knowledgeable about modern events isn't something that only adults should be a part of. I hope that these kids can take advantage of the opportunities that technology provides them to develop their beliefs, skills and passions.
Calli Masters is a senior at West Linn High School.
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