Generation Z — the generation of social media. Kids are supposedly addicted to social media, resulting in constant assemblies and discussions about technology addiction. Nearly every problem is somehow a direct result of technology and how adolescents spend too much time on electronics. Say “I have a headache” or “I’m tired,” and you are bound to be met with, “It’s all that time you spend on your phone, that’s why.”
Addiction is a difficult thing to pinpoint, both for the person experiencing it and the people surrounding someone with it. It usually is followed by denial, aggression and many other negative effects. Addiction to electronics, however, is a term that many people reiterate without truly understanding it.
The world we know evolves on a daily basis; advancements in technology are being made and affecting the way we live. The majority of people own smart devices and that is likely the way it will continue until it is widespread. This is not necessarily a bad thing; just because cell phones and technological devices are so commonly integrated into society, that does not mean everyone who uses them is addicted.
Teens and children of each generation have their own defining accessory: toys, television, and trading cards, for example. This generation grew up with online games, the internet, Netflix, and more. Maybe this generation’s children will have hoverboards and holograms.
Now more than ever, kids and teens are on the internet to fill all the spare time they have, stuck in the house, and even talking to others virtually, trying to socialize the best they can.
With the accessibility of technology, many teens now have virtual friends as well as physical friends. The question on many minds is: Will physical friends be fully replaced by virtual ones? Throughout 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, lots of changes have had to be made regarding the way we socialize with one another.
Virtual friends don’t have the extra weight of meeting up in person to keep the friendship alive. A virtual friend can be texted, called, or video-chatted, and in a pandemic, eliminates the risk of spreading a (potentially) deadly disease.
Replacing physical friends with virtual friends would be a big change from normal life, but not from COVID-19 life. This replacement depends on the future of the way life is approached, and COVID-19 kick-started an inevitable change, though perhaps earlier than expected.
Maybe life will go back to how it was pre-pandemic after a vaccine is released. Maybe it will not and life will never be the same. Virtual meetings and virtual friends may become the new normal. For now, uncertainty is all we have. Only time will tell how technology will progress and affect our generation and the next.
A version of this article appears in print on Dec. 18, 2020, page 5 of the Torch with the headline: Are we obsessed with social media?