The generation of current high school students, also known as “Generation Z” (born 1995-2012) has been under fire and criticized for the past several years. This generation has been labeled by many media outlets as “narcissistic”, “entitled”, “troubled (socially)” and even “deluded”. Resulting in a stereotype that gives society a false perception of what Generation Z truly is. The truth is that Generation Z is no worse than the generations that came before it and in fact might even be tamer. While Generation Z has its faults, it is nowhere near as bad as it is portrayed by the media. And with time Generation Z will become the leading force for change in the world.
It doesn’t seem very difficult for the majority of American society to see Generation Z as being troubled. New technology allows for children of Generation Z to become preoccupied by what seems like trivial matters. An example of this would be social media. Social media influences people to become vain and self-obsessed with things like “selfies” and hashtags, giving way for the belief that users are the stars of their own reality. With social media also comes websites and images that introduce people to new ideas and acts that might seem unconventional as an influence for negative behavior. On the surface, Generation Z seems to be what the stereotype suggests, but the reality is that it is a lot more complex than that reputation and yet still very similar.
This isn’t the first time that a generation of kids was seen as being troubled by the American public. During the 1950s and 60s, many people feared for the teens known as “baby boomers” (born 1946-54) in that they were becoming too rebellious. In 1954, psychologist, Dr. Fredric Wertham suggested that the cause of this new found “delinquency” was by popular forms of entertainment which influenced children into harsh behavior such as crime fiction, comic books, etc. It’s strange how Wertham’s prognosis seems to mirror a Fox News video segment by Dr. Keith Ablow entitled, “We are raising a generation of deluded narcissists.” The segment states that the cause for Generations Y and Z’s apparent narcissism and sense of entitlement comes from social media.
Generation Z isn’t all that different from the generations before it. Each had a negative stigma attached to it and each had elders that considered that stigma to be what the generation was really all about. One would think that if previous generations who carried bad reputations were given the same circumstances as today’s teens, they would not buy into the stereotype of Gen Z. So, why do they? The answer to this question suggests that those previous generations are viewing themselves for what they were in their good actions. Disliking that similarity now, they decide to differentiate the newer generation as something lesser.
Even though each generation has faced negativity during their teen years, they still grew up to be well-adjusted members of society and the same will go for Gen Z. The baby boomers changed the way we saw other individuals through Civil Rights movement; and, Generation Xers (born 1976-96), who according to socialmartketing.org, were also known as the “lost generation,” now run the world. Generation Z might have an attachment to technology and might seem a little too adventurous at times, but it’s Gen Z’s compassion and connection with each other that separates it from previous generations.
Generation Z has been enabled by technology to reach out and communicate with others in a positive manner. While some might say that technology has divided us, the sentiment that stays with Gen Z, is that it has also brought us together as well. The Internet and social media not only introduce teens to new ideas, but introduce other ages of people to new ideas as well. It’s there that Gen Z becomes more aware of the world around them, and while a good portion of activity on social media is done recreationally, there’s still a good majority that has taken an interest outside of something just “fun”. It also seems that Gen Z is the generation that has been the most sensitive towards other people and their feelings as well as their current state. Gen Z, whether it be through T.V programing, books or whatever, has learned from the mistakes of past generations. Concepts such as racism and homophobia are not generally tolerated among Gen Z.
In a sense, Generation Z has become much more compassionate and with that has allowed current teens to become more active in their community and the lives of their friends and family. Gen Z’s environment has given them skills in communication-which can be used in business and political affairs, and a sense of understanding and empathy- enabling many psychologists, doctors and humanists. The stereotype makes society ask, “What’s wrong with kids today?” But no one has ever asked the question, “What are these kids going to be like in their forties and fifties.” The truth is society knows that Gen Z and the generations after them will be fine. And like the generations that came before them, power and influence in the world will be inherited. Thanks to their empathy, compassion and connectivity, the evidence has shown me that when the time comes for Generation Z to take over as world leaders, they will not only be “fine” but monumental.