This is something I question almost every day. I look around and everyone, younger people in particular, is so reliant on technology to get through the day. We rely heavily on video games, television, phones, etc. You have to wonder if at some point there’s going to be some negative effects from this prolonged dependence on technology.
I thought for the longest time that I was part of the Millennial Generation. My parents told me that’s what I was, and it sounded right because it’s the generation that comes after Generation X, which is what both my parents belong to. However, Millennial births range from 1980 to 1994, so us college students can’t be put in that category (unless you’re a 24 years or older). Generation Z births range from 1995 to 2012, so that’s where a majority of students fall. I don’t know how I feel about that. I grew up thinking I was a Millennial, and knowing I’m part of a later generation makes me think I’m too young.
I bring up these generations because Generation Z is probably the first generation to be exposed to technology early in their lives. A lot of us grew up watching “SpongeBob SquarePants” or “The Land Before Time” on a big box television. That would shortly turn into watching “Drake & Josh” or “Zoey 101” on one of the first flat screens, still at a very young age. Now, TVs and computers are so advanced that every young person owns one and uses them almost every day.
The real killer, however, is the cellphone. As a middle schooler, and even through a little bit of high school, I had a slide phone that I was so excited to have. I finally got an iPhone toward the end of my sophomore year in high school, and by then everyone had one. From there, the rest is history.
Everything college kids do nowadays involves technology, from the moment you wake up to when you go to sleep. Once we wake up, the first thing we often do is check Twitter or respond to our Snapchat Streaks. We will continue to check our phone constantly throughout the day to pass the time. Once we get all of our homework done for the day, it’s time to finish binge watching that Netflix show or play four hours of “Fortnite” before bed. (I’m not saying “Fortnite” is bad because it’s awesome). Then it’s time for bed, or more like it’s time to sit on your phone for an hour doing whatever until your brain decides it’s enough technology for the day. The cycle repeats the next day and so on.
We don’t solely depend on technology just for entertainment, but also when we do our homework or study. Everything is online now. You can’t just buy a textbook and call it a day; there’s much more than that. Nowadays, they make you register for digital learning applications like Cengage, MindTap, Top Hat, ALEKS, etc. I understand these make courses go by much easier, but it’s so much different than when our parents went to college.
You have to pay for this stuff on top of a possible textbook, which is something I’m not a huge fan of. You should only have to buy one or the other. College is too expensive as it is to make students pour money into every class in order to get a degree. My point is, we use technology almost every moment of the day. It seems like the only source of entertainment nowadays.
Our parents didn’t grow up with iPhones, social media, PlayStations, etc. They grew up reading books, playing with toys, going to parties or sporting events. While all this stuff is present today, it’s not used by many members of Generation Z. I can’t remember the last time I read a book because I wanted to. Any funny article I might want to read can be found online or on Twitter. On a Friday night in 1993, you would likely find our parents getting beer drunk at a house party or at a bowling alley. Now, it’s all about “squading up” on “Fortnite” or playing “League of Legends” on a PC. Times change.
Kids in Generation Alpha (the generation after Generation Z) will grow up with iPhones, tablets and many other sources of technology. Future generations will continue the reliance on technology as well.
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but you wonder if there will be an effect in cognitive development due to this insane amount of technology use. We, Generation Z, are really the first to experience a technology overload. The internet kind of defeats the purpose of reading books or even newspapers (but, still read The Spectrum). This is just something to keep an eye on to see what direction future generations get steered toward.