If you don’t think your very aquatinted with the attributes that characterize Generation Z, otherwise known as the “digital generation”, allow me to briefly refresh your memory. Gen Z’ers are very fond of instant gratification, things that seem to require unreasonable amounts of time to materialize (at least in our estimations) are generally not so appealing to our emotional stability. We spend most of our days wasting time, whether this involves staring at our digital screens or sleeping excessively, it’s as if we know of no other method in which to conduct our lives. In addition, we are not very conversationally proficient specimens. Asking us to communicate or properly articulate our thoughts is practically analogous to requesting that a group of paraplegics scale Mount Everest.
But what of our good qualities? Do we even possess any? According to popular opinion, we have a bright future. With technology and the digitalization of virtually everything, our future is being widely perceived as inevitably successful, but I think it naïve to believe this presumption.
Firstly, what are the phycological implications produced by the excessive usage of screens? Unfortunately, a satisfactory answer for this question is not currently available considering the insufficiency of phycological literature about tech-use in general. However, we do know some things. One study revealed that over half (55%) of Gen Z use their smartphones five or more hours a day, and over a quarter (26%) use their phones 10 or more hours a day. Another study found that Americans age 18 and older spend roughly ten and a half hours a day watching TV, listening to the radio or using their smartphones and other electronic devices. Not only has today’s technology garnered the constant attention of youngsters (such as Gen Z’ers and Millennials), but they have also made digital addicts out of our populations most competent, the adults.
Secondly, if tech-usage alone consumes most American’s time, what things are they missing out on in consequence? For one, people are spending less time having conversations and verbally expressing themselves (instead communicating via electronic devices), which can obviously lead to dysfunctional relationships with other people. Another would be the fact that we are not reading. Although it seems we have all the information in the world at our finger tips, we aren’t really as intelligent and cognitive as we could be. Literary reading is proven to be one of the most efficient methods of increasing one’s overall knowledge and intelligence, but according to the NEA it has been on the decline for the last 30 years. In 2015, 43 percent of adults read at least one work of literature in the previous year. Obviously something is fundamentally wrong with this picture.
What then can we expect from future America, and more specifically Generation Z? We should not expect to find a multitude of knowledgeable and intellectual people, nor emotionally stable individuals, nor physically healthy people. With the significant rise in mental disorders and, particularly in America the obesity epidemic, it could be inferred that the second stage of the dark ages is nearer than we would like. I’m not going to be one that is so easily persuaded by the optimists concerning this matter, because I don’t perceive there is much to be optimistic about, but I sure damn well hope I’m wrong.