Generation Z: Technology and Social Interest (Essay Sample)

With the mass spread of technology, students are not only utilizing it in the classroom but in their daily lives. Technology and especially social media allow users to connect with anyone, anywhere, at any time, while affecting their day to day functions and the way they go about life. Technology greatly affects the definition of humanity, while promoting laziness along with shaping and impacting humanity.

Technology has changed the way humanity functions. TikTok, a popular social media platform, requires little skill or knowledge. While similar to other social media platforms, “TikTok doesn’t ask you to pretend that you’re on the Internet for a good reason.” (Tolentino). When you open the app, you are greeted with a video tailored to your interest. This draws you in making it hard to resist the temptation of mindlessly scrolling for hours on end, dwindling down the number of productive hours in a day. However, this isn’t just true of TikTok, according to an article written by Alison Gopnik, titled Is “Screen Time” Dangerous for Children? published in the November 2016 issue of The New Yorker, this mindless waste of time can come from other sources, “whether those hours are occupied by apps or TV or books or just by talk.” This suggests that humans don’t need technology to waste time, but rather it’s a trait of humans and they will find any means to fulfill these desires. Technology enables humanity to utilize time in an unproductive manner, but it also encourages laziness. “Research that once required days in the stacks or periodical rooms of libraries can now be done in minutes.” (Carr). Technology allows us to easily access information that we would have never dreamed of knowing with little effort.

While humans have found a variety of ways to waste their time on pointless things, that is not the only “consequence” of a society centered around technology. At a very young age, children are now being shaped by and interpreting what they see online. Children in the toddler age range may be able to learn something from simple educational videos on platforms such as youtube, specifically from the ChuChu TV channel, a company centered around toddler content. However, “children under 2 struggle to translate the world of the screen to the one they see around them, with all its complexity and three-dimensionality.”... Because of this, videos turn from educational in theory.. “to just entertainment and the killing of time” (Madrigal). Technology doesn’t just have a temporary effect on younger formidable children, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas, told Jean M. Twenge of The Atlantic, that, “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.” Generations are shaped by events and occurrences as they age, these can include concrete events like the World Wars or something less tangible, such as the internet. Regardless of the event, it is undeniable that it shapes and affects the generation as a whole. This is no less true than the advent of the smartphone, people born between 1995 and 2012 are apart of Gen Z, popularly coined as the iGen, “members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet.” (Twenge). I was born in 2003 and remember the internet being a part of my childhood but certainly not at the level for modern children, such as the children who are entertained by the videos on the ChuChu TV channel. As I entered primary school, I was met with advancing technology, it too became a part of my formative years and now I use mainstream technology in my daily life. An early childhood where entertainment didn’t just come as an exterior source, I could find things to entertain myself, and interact with people in-person but as technology became more advanced, so did I.   

Technology has to power to change us as a people. As technology became more advanced, so did I, I didn’t become advanced because of technology, it is rather a correlation, not causation. However, the same can not definitely be said about the rise of loneliness and the advent of the iPhone. According to a Health Service company, Cigna U.S. who surveyed over 20,000 U.S. adults, “Gen Z adults surveyed (ages 18 to 22), are the loneliest, according to the report” (Berger). Members of Gen Z or the cleverly nicknamed iGen were born between 1997 and 2012 and raised with the internet and social media. The survey also “found that social media doesn’t have much of an impact on loneliness” (Berger). Although within the same generation or age range this claim may stand true, it is undeniable that the release of the iPhone in 2007 and the increase of loneliness as age decreases are majorly connected. James Olds, a neuroscience professor says “The brain has the ability to reprogram itself on the fly, altering the way it functions.” (Carr). The brain has evidently reprogrammed itself with the advent of the iPhone into regular use.

Technology offers knowledge one would never dream of learning, but at what cost, and what cost to the children growing up in this rapidly digitizing world? Will the sacrifice made at the feet of technology be favorable later down the road? Does the impact of technology weigh more positively or more negatively on humanity? Regardless of the answers to these questions, technology has an undeniable effect on humanity for better. Or for worse?