Growing up with the Internet

Generation-Z’s Social Media Obsession

Gen-Z is a generation that is utterly obsessed with our phones and screens. We are a part of a generation that was born into the unknown and pushed into the abyss of the internet. Our developing years were spent having to choose between living in the moment and getting lost in our technology. We turned out fine though, right? 

Well… not exactly. Social media and technology availability has increased rates of suicide and depression, (although it is difficult to directly link the increase of these rates with the rise in technology, there has never been a time where teens were able to receive instant disappointment or gratification as fast as they do today), and teens see themselves from a different perspective than generations past, due to constant feedback and comments about themselves. Mental illness is ever present in our society, with social media comments and comparisons available at our fingertips 24/7. 

black iphone 4 on brown wooden table

Face to face contact between teens has lowered, with many teens spending upwards of 10+ hours a day sitting on their phones. The time used to be spent hanging out with friends and family is now spent lying in bed snapchatting and scrolling through endless feeds of useless information. Youtube wormholes that last 5-6 hours, where time had flown by so quickly that you didn’t even realize the sun had set. This has led to mass amounts of procrastination amongst teens, and a large dependency on screens for information. Gen-Z doesn’t have to remember their friends’ phone numbers or information on every topic because our phones can store that information for us, leaving us utterly useless without our phones.

My Social Media Experience

I am like every other Gen-Z member, utterly addicted and captivated by technology. I wake up every morning and immediately check Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. I wake up every morning and flood my brain with overloads of information, and I don’t even question it. No one does, because we all do it; an unspoken similarity between all of Gen-Z. The connection between me and my phone is closer than any of my friends, with my notes app filled with poems, ideas and songs that will never be spoken IRL. Yet, I know it’s bad for me, this relationship between me and the phone. What am I supposed to do, end it?

The amount of articles I have read, and wrote, on the subject of social media is overloading. After contemplating and processing these thoughts, I painstakingly chose to break off the one sided relationship. I decided to take my phone usage into my own hands. The 12+ hours of screen time loomed over my head as I deleted Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. The next morning I woke up to 0 notifications, and I felt great. A weight had been lifted off my shoulders, except I felt so… out of place. I would talk with my friends and they would bring up trends from TikTok or Twitter, and it would go right over my head. I had no idea what they were talking about, or even where the conversation had stemmed from. 

This led me to think about our society today. Cancel culture and fashion trends fly by so quickly, with many, including me, barely catching on to one before another has already started. TikTok trends and Twitter hashtags have only benefited our need for shorter times when things are “trending”. Gen-Z’s attention span is at an all time low, and our addiction with 15 second TikTok’s only furthered this statistic. I noticed myself becoming uninterested in the newest trends because of how much more work it took me to find them and learn about them. I drifted farther from the latest fads, and found myself alone. 

So after a week, I caved. I redownloaded Snapchat and Instagram, trying to find a happy medium between “no social media” and “social media obsessed.” When I opened Snapchat for the first time, sadly, a rush of serotonin flooded over me. A short wave of happiness though, because I had only 2 messages. 2 messages! I had been gone for an entire week, spending days accidentally clicking the “settings app” or “reminders app” that had subsequently replaced Snapchat and Instagram. The messages happened to be so unimportant that I didn’t even bother responding. 

This led me to another thought. How had I once spent 4 hours a day on this app? What made me feel so special that I thought people cared about my every waking thought or movement? Why did we all believe that people cared about our every waking thought or movement? I had been programmed to think this was the norm, but was it? 

So… I deleted Snapchat once again, and Instagram a few moments after. This ended up confusing my friends about where they could contact me, but alas I felt a little better.

3 weeks later

The difference between my life then and now is that I have found ways to spend my time. Instead of aimlessly scrolling through Instagram feeds and Snapchat stories, I’ve been reading and hanging out with friends. I have discovered things about myself I never would’ve known if I didn’t put down, as my mom puts it, “that damn phone.” 

So… What Now?

I do realize a very small amount of people are looking to delete social media, or to intentionally distance themselves from a lot of their friends and online enjoyments. And trust me, it is not for everyone! We all have different ideas of fulfillment, but I leave you with one last thing to think about:

When was the last time you woke up in the morning and didn’t check your phone?


Sources:

VOA News “Gen Z: Born to be Digital”

The Atlantic “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” 


Reese Trowbridge

Reese Trowbridge is a 16 year old junior at Bayonne High School with interests in biology and medicine. Along with being a Zenerations writer, she has served as many positions in Student Government and is apart of Model UN. Her work mainly reflects her passions which include the environment, music, and mental health.

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