Technology and Entertainment, It’s All A Mind Game

September 14, 2022

Wake up. Grab your phone. Scroll through social media for long periods of time. A typical routine for Generation Z.

One of Generation Z’s defining features is the connection between social media and growing up.  For instance, 30% of parents of children at the ages of 9-11 say their children use TikTok. 

“The second I wake up in the morning to when I am about to fall asleep, I’m on my phone,” senior Alyssa Miguel said. “As a teenager in this digital age it seems impossible to go more than an hour without it. But why would you want to? All of your friends are just a text away and you have the entirety of the internet at your fingertips.”

Most teenagers have been using technology since birth, growing up alongside the internet. For many it becomes an extension of themselves. Daily tasks and interactions move from physical to digital.

“It is almost impossible to not use technology every day for almost everything,” Miguel said. “Instead of going up to people in classes and introducing yourself, you just follow them on social media. Instead of making flashcards using index cards, you can just make a slideshow. Almost every part of our personal lives and school work can be more efficient online.”

Many teenagers are venturing out into the life of social media and becoming influencers. Being allowed to access technology at younger ages allows for 42% of teenagers to explore the different types of media and entertainment they can create. Freshman Flor Bordinhon started creating personal podcasts to share her life experiences and self realizations with her peers. 

“My podcast seems to be something that will always be with me,” Bordinhon said. “I want to share more life experiences and self realizations throughout my life, but I don’t care if it becomes viral or not; all I want to do is share some life experiences and self realizations.”

As of today, around 86% of teenagers today are open to the idea of building their fame off of social media and becoming influencers. Growing up in a society that is heavily influenced by how many likes, followers, and views a person receives influences many teenagers to want to be a part of that demographic.

“If [Generation Z] lives for the camera, then there’s a problem because what if technology fails, or technology fails them not on just an actual, physical level, but more like on a mental level,” Video Production teacher Robert Lemons said. “This generation has an addiction to a ‘Now, Now, Now. Me, Me, Me,’ mentality. If something doesn’t give them instant gratification, then they aren’t interested. Entertainment has also given Generation Z shorter attention spans.”

On the other end of the spectrum, some teenagers have sworn off social media completely. After past negative experiences, some find that to be the easiest solution. 

“After being on almost every social media platform over the past couple of years, I have realized that the best thing for my mental health was to simply delete my accounts,” senior Savannah Libatique said. “Being constantly focused on how I was perceived on the internet took so much brain power. My screen time has gone from six hours to just under two. Not checking Instagram or Snapchat every couple of minutes leaves you with more time to actually build relationships with the people around instead of just checking what they posted.”

It is not uncommon for Generation Z to have some type of social media platform to get their daily entertainment. As of today, 68% of teenagers spend around six to eight hours of their day, sometimes even more.

“With social media, I think that’s the biggest influence,” Lemons said. “Generation Z wants to emulate what they see because they believe that, that is how things should be, how people should live and how people should look. Just look at the filters, which are very detrimental to one’s mental health. I think that social media’s one of the issues.”

Seeing these influencers grow their following by simply posting themselves on social media has led to many females within Generation Z to see the media as competition. Some of these teenagers feel the need to look a certain way or imitate what these influencers do, just so they receive the same reassurance that the influencers have. 

“We’re so focused on getting more likes than ‘that’ friend, or getting more views on their TikTok than someone else and I feel like this competition to get more likes has two possible reasons,” Bordinhon said. “One reason would be that we’re so insecure outside of the internet, that getting more likes or even bragging about it makes us feel better about ourselves, but at the end of the day, it’s literally just likes. Although it is a pleasurable experience to keep up with the media and actively expose yourself to everything going around, there are some areas where over-exposure can lead to negative consequences.”

Because of the instant gratification and ability to spy on strangers’ lifestyles that social media allows, Generation Z has become disconnected from reality. This is a generation-wide problem that our teachers, parents, and leaders have noticed. However, taking more time to peel their eyes from their phones could help Generation Z curb this overreliance on technology. 

“I’ve been trying to stay disconnected, and not use my phone as much,” Bordinhon said. “It’s hard since I use my phone to talk to friends, watch videos and tv shows, search recipes, learn, play video games or even school. I have times when I put my phone down and do something else such as cooking, painting or singing. I just feel like it’s good for all of us to disconnect sometimes and enjoy the real world, because that’s all we’ve got at the end of the day.”

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