April 6, 2023

Today’s teenagers, Generation Z, are the first generation to have grown up on the Internet. While older generations may see modern technology as an unwelcome distraction, most current high schoolers have never known a world without smartphones or social media. The tech industry has become bigger than ever and while the young are experts when it comes to keeping up the constant flow of new products and updates, this technological revolution has left many older generations behind.

“It is not that they won’t figure out how to use it, it’s that it is going to take them longer… As you get older, your fluid intelligence decreases so your reasoning, problem solving skills, [and] your speed at which you can pick up new skills decreases. And so for older generations, it is a lot more overwhelming than it is for younger [people],” said Mrs. Orlando, an AP Psychology teacher at East.

“My granddad called me at 10 at night to ask what cloud storage was,” wrote one student.

“My grandma talks to my mom on the landline every week,” wrote another. “We have tried to show her the ways of an iPad or a normal iPhone but due to a generational gap, she could not adapt.”

According to a 2016 Pew Research Center study, 80% of individuals aged 65 years or older have some sort of cell phone, but only 42% use smartphones. Furthermore, Pew Research Center studies also show that today, only about 45% of Americans aged 65 and older use social media, compared with 84% of individuals ages 18 to 29 and 81% of those ages 30 to 49. Thus, the trite image of the social-media obsessed teen, eyes constantly glued to their phone, has evolved into a popular stereotype for Gen Z.

“At home everything is blamed [on] my phone. If I make a mistake, it’s because of my phone. If I get a bad grade, it’s because of my phone,” one student wrote.

Another student wrote, “When my grandfather was alive, he was not a fan of kids having cell phones until the age of 18. He didn’t know how to use his [phone] that well so he would often get mad if I was on mine at all.”

Gen Z’s familiarity with technology may also be part of the reason why the divergence between the viewpoints of the young and the old has been so drastic over recent years. With the rise of social media, kids are becoming increasingly exposed to the outside world — to new ideas and opinions — at increasingly young ages. The stances our parents no longer hold as much precedence in defining our personal ideologies.

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