Ask yourself this: if Alexander Graham Bell could see the world today, swarming around his invention, the telephone (now called the iPhone), do you think he would rewind and hold off on his invention? Being born in Generation Z, and growing up with our future leaders, I certainly hope he would.
The telephone was invented to make our lives simpler and perhaps less complicated. Ironically, it makes our teen lives 10 times more complicated and more challenging to grow up in.
The generations before us accepted the telephone and used it. Now it's ingrained in my generation, Generation Z. The iPhone is like a drug that everyone born after us will be addicted to. It's not the phone itself; it's what lies inside. It is social media, constant connection and information. We're so enveloped in connection and information and the world doesn't bother to look up from their own screen to see the amount of knowledge we're not just gaining but drowning in.
Because Generation Z is so exposed to technology, connection and information than previous generations, it's harder for them to come of age.
Past generations had more time to linger in childhood, while Generation Z is thrust sooner into adulthood. If you think back to when you were a child, everything seemed good. Everything from your point of view was jocund and cheerful. You truly believed that you could be anything your little heart desired, and the sky was your only limit.
Part of growing up is slowly, but surely, chipping away at that childish state of mind. The sooner you are exposed to horrible things, the sooner you are chipping away at your childhood.
According to Brian Mastroianni, who wrote "Among Teens, iPhones Reign Supreme And Facebook Falters" for CBS News, 67 percent of American teens have an iPhone to call their own -- a world of information at their fingertips. Every horrible thing that goes on in our world is just a click away from a teen who will be losing a bit more of their childhood innocence by reading it.
As I conducted an interview with my uncle, from Generation X, he told me about the explosion of the Challenger in 1986, which was the first real national tragedy he had experienced and tried to wrap his head around. For our generation, the first time we were exposed to a huge tragedy like that of the Challenger was the bombing at the Boston Marathon. My class was in fourth grade at the time, putting most of us around the age of 9 or 10. In addition, one was an accident, while the other was planned. So my 9- and 10-year-old classmates dealt with trying to understand a tragedy that had been a planned attack, while my uncle's generation was trying to understand a tragedy that had been an accident, at age 13.
Because of the increase of technology, especially iPhones, information is easier to access, especially for kids. So we were seeing the world at its worst sooner than other generations. Generation Z has been forced to hurdle over some of the most beautiful times in our life. This is because we were shown the world as it is hastily, rather than keeping the perspective of a child who sees the world as a living, breathing fairy tale.
Because our generation is exposed to such eye-opening events earlier, we are considered to be the realists of the ever-changing world. Yet, as the cliche says, people always want what they can't have. We were given eyes that see everything as it is, but we want to see ourselves at our best. It is both a benefit and detriment that social media allows us to create a perfect image of how we want to others to see us. Consciously, it's more challenging for teens today to be themselves than it was in the 1980s.
A reporter for CNN, Kelly Wallace, wrote in "Teens Spend A 'Mind-Boggling' 9 Hours A Day Using Social Media" that the average teen above the age of 12 spends nine out of 15 waking hours on a device. Most of that time is spent checking social media. If you see something that angers you on social media, for example, it's a whole lot easier to post something tough and mean with only a screen facing you. In the 1980s, whatever you had to say, it was most likely said face to face. The iPhone that divides us can make you say things that you would never say in person, because we know the screen is there to protect us.
Of course, there is no one forcing us to be on our phones or technology, where we pretend to be someone we're not, but technology has been ingrained in our culture. Yes, we can meet people in person, but it's simply easier not to. Our times for sports are texted on our phones, and most of our homework occurs on the computer. Social media is only a click away once we're already online, and apparently the temptation is much too powerful. Especially at our age, we want to be accepted by our friends and be liked by people. That's just the teenage way. It's so effortless to post something that makes us seem better, nicer or perhaps stronger. When given the choice between dream or a nightmare, most people will pick the dream. You can't expect us to put everything as it is when we could use social media to arrange our lives to how we want it to look like.
Increased technology is thought to make the world more connected and an easier place to obtain information, but it's made it harder on our generation to come of age. It will be equally as hard, if not harder, for future generations.
Each year, the string that childhood dangles on is getting shorter and shorter. Teens are finding it harder to be themselves and have connections that don't exist on a screen.
However, the future in our hands does not look grim or baleful, only different from previous generations. We're still people, even when we're looking at our phones. We still need support and encouragement. When others reach out to us, we will eventually realize that the world doesn't occur on a phone screen, but rather through our own eyes. We just need help to get us started.
If you care enough to help us look away from our devices for a few minutes, you might find the world in better condition to raise new generations. Generation Z is steering the world's ship into the future, but that doesn't mean that generations before us cannot lay a hand on our shoulders and guide us. If we are locked away in a world where everyone grows up too soon and people pretend to be someone they are not, then who's to say what will happen? As long as you can keep us distracted from the information pouring into us, I have no doubt in my mind that Generation Z won't go down in history.
Ally Smith is a freshman at Grandview Heights High School.