According to a recent study by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that helps children succeed in a highly interconnected world, teens in the United States spend about nine hours using media for their enjoyment, while tweens, identified as children 8 to 12 years old, spend about six hours a day.
James Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, remarked how much media technology is being used is “mind-boggling;” meanwhile, texting eliminates the physical, verbal, and emotional presence involved with face-to-face conversation, something that he views as “a huge issue in terms of society … and how young people are evolving in a social, emotional context.”
This study should alarm all of us, and we should deeply consider the implications.
How we can communicate today could hardly have been imagined even just 10 years ago, and the long-term effects on Generation Z, the age group encompassing all these teens and tweens, are still largely up for debate.
Social media and cell phones grant us almost limitless capabilities. We can type on a keyboard whenever we want, but we can’t always avoid in person conversations, and we should learn to prefer the old-fashioned way; we miss so much being stuck to screens.
The lack of empathy now involved in what had been very basic conversations will only continue to get worse. It only follows to ask: will physical contact, one on one conversation, always have to exist? Will we eventually ween it out of our society?
While no one can really guess what the answers to those questions may be with technology improving as quickly as it is, it ought to become a priority of parents of Generation Z, and members of Generation Z for that matter, to remember to experience the world that actually exists around them.
Watching a concert through the cell phone one is recording it on is not watching the concert itself. Taking selfies with a natural wonder is time spent looking away from natural wonders. Texting or calling a best friend to say happy birthday will never be the same as giving your best friend a hug and speaking your birthday wishes into their ear.
Sure, times have changed, and we are, for the most part, better for the advanced technology we have. We have practically limitless knowledge at our disposals, and we can talk to anyone we want whenever we want, among other incredible benefits.
But, if current trends continue, much of what makes us human beings at our lowest levels, that is, our abilities to have genuine, compassionate, and physical relationships, could forever be altered. Gone could be the days of eye contact, hand-holding, and hugs, and a world without those is a pretty empty world.
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