Are Smartphones Killing Generation Z’s Social Life?

smartphones

Generation Z is the group of young adults who were born between 1995 and 2012. They have never lived in a world where there the Internet did not exist, and most have had smartphones since they were in middle school. However, a lot of experts have expressed concern that this generation appears to live their lives on their smartphones rather than in the real world. These experts have noted that social trends with Generation Z members are changing, and those changes are in large part because of their smartphones.

Use of Apps

Snapchat The members of Generation Z conduct much of their daily lives on their phones. Research indicates most teenagers have accounts on Snapchat and Instagram. Snapchat allows them to take funny pictures of themselves or things they see and post them to their accounts. Most of the pictures or videos disappear quickly, but some of the pictures and videos can be added to their stories. Generation Z teenagers are proud of their Snapstreaks, which is the number of days in a row they have Snapchatted each other, as well as the number of Snapchats they have sent, which can number in the hundreds of thousands.

This group of teens adapts to new technology quickly, and businesses find themselves struggling to catch up. When many of these young adults were in elementary school and middle school, they watched YouTube videos. However, there are not many who still watch or make YouTube videos because they have moved first to Vine, and then to Snapchat or Instagram for short videos they can watch.

Isolation

IsolationMany members of Generation Z do not engage with adults or other teenagers in the same way their parents did when they were young. The parents of Generation Z’s young adults, who are either Gen Xers or Millennials, did not grow up with as much technology, and spent hours at the mall or hung out at the skating rink or the park to socialize. However, the members of Generation Z spend a great deal of time hanging out on their phones, virtually with their friends, which means they spend a lot of time alone.

Generation Z’s isolation is troubling for researchers and psychologists because if the teenagers and young adults spend all their time in virtual reality, then they do not see people and places or experiences as they actually are. This has led to a group of people who admit they like their phones more than they like other people, and who also admit they are uncomfortable interacting in social situations.

Independence

independent personEarlier generations of teenagers could not wait to get their first taste of independence. For example, many teenagers in the 1970s and 1980s could not wait to drive. They wanted to go out and get jobs and leave their parents’ houses to make lives of their own. However, the members of Generation Z increasingly prefer to stay at home on their phones and delay getting jobs or their driver’s licenses. Researchers have noted it does not appear to matter whether the teens come from a wealthy family, a middle-class background, or a background of poverty, or live in the city or country, the results are the same. Teens would rather stay home on their phones than go out and work or drive.

Dating and Friendships

DatingTeenagers who belong to Generation Z do not date in the same numbers as their parents did. In fact, more than half of the seniors in high school have not dated at all. And, those teenagers who have dated, have not dated long. They are also less likely than their parents to have had sex. Researchers have noted that sexual activity is delayed a full year from the average date of the sexual activity of their parents.

In fact, Generation Z teenagers are stretching what it means to be teenagers past the age most of their parents began being adults. These teenagers also appear to have more free time than generations before them but do not spend it socializing with friends. They prefer, instead, to spend that time at home on their phones.

When Generation Z teenagers do socialize, they document all of it on their phones where others can see it. This creates a false sense of reality among their group of friends and acquaintances that somewhere some other teenager is having more fun than they really are.

Teenagers who have more social interaction off-screen with their peers report being happier than teenagers who have little or no social interaction off-screen. Researchers have noted that these teenagers have managed to build a life away from their screens, and have created real, nonscreen friendships and social groups. Such examples of these social groups include sports teams and volunteer groups. In addition, teenagers who are active in a religious group reported a larger number of friends than those teenagers with no religious affiliation.

Negative Trends

depressionResearchers say this use of smartphones has contributed to the rise in depression and suicide rates among teens. More teenagers report problems with depression and suicidal thoughts now than at any other time in the history of the United States. In addition, more teenagers have reported they struggle with emotional issues and isolation from others, which experts say lead to depression and suicide. Teenagers who spend less time on their phones report being happier than teenagers who spend more time on their phones.

In addition to the rise in depression and suicide, teenagers – especially girls – report greater incidences of cyberbullying online. Cyberbullying can lead to students avoiding school altogether, physical symptoms of stress and depression, and a rise in suicides and attempted suicides. Cyberbullying has become a huge issue in high schools across the United States, and teenagers are reluctant to report the abuse, which only contributes to the problem.

Positive Trends

Generation ZGeneration Z teenagers are far safer than teenagers of any other generation in recent history because of their tendency to stay at home. For example, teens are getting into fewer car accidents. Fewer teens are having sex, which means that the birth rate for teenage mothers is the lowest it has been in decades. In addition, fewer teens are drinking or using drugs, which means that fewer teens are dying in accidents that are alcohol-related or drug-related. This group of teenagers reports having fewer problems with addictions than other generations and incidents of sexual assault and rape have declined for this age group. Homicides are also far lower for this group of teenagers than for their parents.

In addition, there are many Generation Z teens who do not fit into the established profile of Generation Z teens. In other words, they go out and find jobs, they volunteer and help others, and they study, make good grades and go to college. There are students who date and form relationships outside their homes.

While it is easy to categorize all Generation Z teens as fitting into one large group, it is actually impossible to do because each teenager is different. In addition, many teenagers have recognized that they need to put their phones down and go out into the world to experience life without a screen.

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Jean Carter is from Oakland, California and studied jewelry design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco, California. After graduation, and pining for a warmer climate, Jean relocated to the Tule Springs suburb of Las Vegas, where she owns and operates her own online jewelry boutique incorporating traditional native American styles with her own unique designs. A true fan of the sophistication and glamor of Las Vegas casino life, Jean is also a freelance blogger specializing in all things suave and fashionable surrounding the casino lifestyle.