By Carly Mraz
Recent protests and uprisings led by America’s youth have brought light to another aspect of GenZ, the teenagers of today: what is the impact of cellphones on our safety and communication?
For years, the stereotype of anti-social, phone-obsessed juveniles has been the standard of our adolescence. However, teenagers like Emma Gonzalez and other Parkland survivors have begun to challenge this assumption with their strong morales, agency, and public speaking presence. Whether it is standing in silence on a stage or using social media to get a message across, these kids know their audience, and they know who they are advocating for and against.
Studies have shown that the rebellious behaviour of earlier generations, such as cigarette smoking, binge drinking, teen pregnancy, young sexual intercourse, and drunk driving, have reduced by percents as high as 64, setting a historic low for this kind of conduct.
While many people like Dr. Twenge, author of iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood, believe that the evidence of fewer face-to-face activities in this generation indicates an increase in depression and less social activity, there is much countering on this subject proving that mental illness is not only caused by smartphone usage, but can also be tied to family conditions, bullying, socio-economic status, and more demeaning aspects of childhood.
Dr. Prieto, Packer’s upper school psychologist, said that it is a matter of being predisposed to something, just like anything else, mental illness derives from many different places, and goes beyond our everyday actions.
Other influencers such as Don Tapscott, author of Grown Up Digital, believe that today’s teens show increased and improved interaction with parents. There is something to be said about the confidence displayed in youth-led media. The connections made between students and teachers and between children and parents are said to be more effective, long-lasting, and positive.
Between previous generations there have been gaps where interaction has been very minimal, but today what we have is “a generation lap” according to Tapscott; the amount of communication by GenZ is surpassing the norm. For today’s teens, finding trustworthy and helpful adults is key to future success. Instead of running away from adversity, teens encounter problems and find ways to fix them, using their grown counterparts to their advantage.
Wendy Mogel, author of Voice lessons for Parents: What to say, How to Say It and When to Listen, believes that, “The press and general public like to see them as spoiled and not having to work hard for anything except grades and being very entitled, but they’re courageous, energetic, optimistic and really smart.’”
As stated by Dr. Prieto, technology requires barriers and self-awareness, and whether or not you are able to use the technology effectively is a key aspect of this concept.
The collected, powerful, and presiding attitudes of GenZ provide evidence leading many to believe that the near future will be dominated by a generation of savvy and safe teenagers. As stated by Emma Gonzalez, “Fight for your lives before it is someone else’s job.”