Generation Z: saving the best for last

Kids begin to use technology at young ages. One negative effect that may result from increased screen time is an increase in obese citizens.
Kids begin to use technology at young ages. One negative effect that may result from increased screen time is an increase in obese citizens.

Generation Z, today’s 9-21 year olds, is nicknamed the “Do-it-yourself generation.” According to the Institute for Emerging Issues at NCSU, “Generation Z has a casual, personal and direct way of communicating, and social networking is a central part of their lives.”

We are characterized by the need to feel constantly connected to the web, the lack of efficient informational skills, the want for a variety of learning experiences and the desire to learn by doing things ourselves rather than from others’ advice.

All of Leesville’s students are included in Generation Z. The 2010 North Carolina Civic Health Index says we are the least engaged of any age group in major civic health indicators, such as voting. This could be seen as negative because it is important to know what is going on in the world and being an active citizen, but we are only 9-21 years old; most of us can’t vote right now anyway.

We grew up with high-speed Internet, over 500 HD channels and cell phones. We haven’t ever had to deal with dial-up or five news channels to choose from. In 2004, 45% of 12-17 year olds owned a cell phone, compared to 75% this past year. Generation Z spends more time with electronics than with people; one in three teens sends more than 100 text messages a day, or 3,000 texts a month.

Not only are we criticized for our electronic usage, but compared to other generations, we spend the least amout of time in physical activity.While current recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services call for at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, most Generation Z’ers are exercising far less; only about two in five Gen Z’ers are meeting this standard. Statistics show that nearly 32% of children ages 10-17 are either overweight or obese. The importance of these statistics is that we are making ourselves less healthy and living shorter lives than our parents.

Generation Z may have negative stereotypes, but we’re not all bad. For the 2010-2011 school year, the high school graduation rate was 77.9 percent, compared to the 1960’s, where only about 60% of students graduated. But what about the other 22.1 percent? In our generation it seems like one is either successful or a dropout. Perhaps the reason why the high school graduation rate is increasing is because a high school diploma doesn’t get you the same kind of salary that it used to. It requires more schooling now to be successful. Generation Z is held to higher academic expectations than previous generations. Generations to come may have even higher expectations and may be required to take more classes and receive higher degrees to earn the same salary as our generation. As more and more people are educating themselves, the value of 4-year diplomas decrease.

Our generation is plugged in and more technologically advanced than any other generation before us, but isn’t that true for any generation? Every generation should be more advanced than the one before it. The world is growing and changing, and as a generation, we are adapting. The fact that we are adapting so quickly and efficiently says something good about us.

We’re supervised and over-parented, spoiled maybe, but we are still willing to take risks and educate ourselves. Other generations can easily criticize any generation that pushes the envelope and challenges the norm. Yes, some are overweight and spend more time surfing the Internet than playing outside, but our ability to problem-solve and use technology is phenomenal. We’re not lazy or too involved with technology–we’re just different.


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