No two people experience the same childhood. Even in families, parents raise each child differently. However, many children share similar experiences with others born in the same time period, and those similarities are what bound a generation.
In the media there has been a constant buzz about Millennials: what activities, products, and establisments they’ve killed, how they have assimilated to the workplace, and how they spend a disproportionate amount of their income on avocado toast. Generation Z, the generation currently spanning from preteens to fresh college graduates, has largely remained out of casual journalism. Much of the recent coverage regarding Generation Z has had to do with the outspoken teen political activists in the wake of Parkland. Generation Z’s political activism is due in part to early peer-to-peer political socialization through social media. Although there are many aspects that help define the late 90’s and early 00’s generation, one of the most universal, at least in first world countries, is the constant presence of screens.
Junior Harper Esterle said, “Our generation [was] born basically with keyboards in our hands. I can see how everyone in our generation has these unique, natural instincts regarding any piece of technology, which I would say specially sets us apart from other generations and makes us more like each other.”
While the age of first contact with technology varies, most grew up with the television, were introduced to the computer some time during grade school, and received a smart phone around middle school or junior high. Almost half of all survey respondents said that television shows were the most influential early on in their generation, with the next category, social media, receiving less than a quarter of the votes. The most common TV show in the responses was SpongeBob SquarePants, while other shows from Disney and Nickelodeon showed up less often. Making over eight billion dollars, there is something to be said about the effect SpongeBob has had on the generation. With atheistic views on the rise in America, cartoons like SpongeBob may have been where many learned basic morals, as children’s cartoon can take the form of a fable.
Despite the prevalence of television in Gen Z’s childhood, the smartphone has arguably had a greater effect defining the generation. With the launch of the iPhone in 2007, Gen Z has had access to the world in their pockets.
Sophomore Olivia Rohling said, “I got a phone in middle school, with that I also got social media. I feel like it’s nearly impossible to find a gen z kid without either of those.”
Members of the generation also feel more inclined to deviate from cultural norms; furthermore, they are also more tolerant of others who do not conform.
Sophomore Anna Eiser said, “We are by far the most accepting generation.”
While members may not have to deal with one legged stools and paddles in the classroom, they have it harder in other ways. The introduction of technology in the classroom has made it easier to teach and learn, but it has also created a dependency on the internet and only increased the amount of screen-on time Gen Z is subjected to. The looming cost of college is now more of a threat than it ever was, and it is no longer socially acceptable to turn down the high price to take a blue collar job, even when blue collar jobs are in demand.
Junior Christopher Georgiades said, “I think our generation has it harder than previous generations in that we have more pressure on us. We have more people to compete with when it comes to things like college and jobs. There is also more pressure on our generation to get a college degree than there ever has been in the past.”
While life may be different in many ways for the next generation to enter the workforce, only time will tell what the world has in store for the generation after Millennials.