Fluent in sarcasm, texting at a rate of 100 words per minute, and sassier than ever before -- I am indeed a member of Generation Z, the world's current teenage generation.
As an expert on the matter, I can safely say it is much harder for teenagers today than in past generations. Because of constant access to knowledge on the internet, social media and extraordinarily high academic standards, the pressure is on for Generation Z.
It's no secret that the world we live in is more webbed together than ever before. Thanks to the invention of the internet, people are exposed to 1.2 billion gigabytes of data from the moment they are born (thanks, Google).
Don't get me wrong, there are definitely some positives. Without the internet, it's more than likely that young people today wouldn't be as well-versed in politics. But the ratios of positives to negatives are way out of proportion, favoring the latter.
Using the previous example, it takes me 30 seconds to read President Trump's latest tweet (3,830,000 results in 0.57 seconds) just as it would take me 30 seconds to find pictures of the Holocaust (29,100,000 results in 0.58 seconds), a topic unfiltered and available to everyone, yet not appropriate for everyone. Not all of the information on the internet is appropriate for all ages at all times, yet it is there.
At a young age, children are often shielded from difficult topics of discussion until later on in development. It isn't in most school's curriculum to talk about the Holocaust until eighth grade. In fact, according to an article about brain development written by Nancy Guberti in 2016, from birth to around 6 years of age, humans are still establishing an idea of perception as well as a sense of self-development. Negative or harsh trauma could lead to emotional consequences later on in life.
Another popular aspect of modern-day technology is social media -- a term easy to understand but daunting when in action.
Social media is a broad category of online websites and browsers that allow people to share content and network among other users. In theory, social media should be harmless -- just a place to brag about events in your life. But as we have already learned, with every good thing comes something a little more negative. On the authority of an article from 2015 written by Business Insider journalist Abby Jackson, depression is no longer our nation's leading mental illness. Rather, anxiety is what we should be worrying about.
We all know that it's easier to gossip about someone if they aren't right there to hear it. The same idea also resonates in social media. It is so much easier to send someone an anonymous message or post a mean comment on someone's page behind a username. After all, it's just one comment, right? Wrong.
Susan Swearer and Brandi Berry in a 2011 article on Education.com informed us that people who are bullied and/or bullies have a greatly increased chance of developing anxiety. In addition, the number of people bullying or getting bullied has grown because of the invention of the internet.
As if that wasn't enough, anxiety's climbing rates are presaging the skyrocketing suicide rates. From 1999 to 2014, the overall suicide rate for teens rose 24 percent and boosted our nation's suicide rate to a whopping 13 people out of every 100,000, according to The New York Times. That's one person every 16.2 minutes. When someone dies it affects a lot of people, filling them with feelings of sadness and stress. It's not uncommon for this to just add to the stress teens already feel.
I am an average teenager who experiences stress regularly. I'm an average-sized teenager who spends the week attending a good school in a little town called Grandview. I attend school for seven hours, five days a week. Once the school day is over, I return home to start my homework. Ah, yes, there it is, the thing dreaded by every one of my classmates, including myself. Maybe it's because we're tired, maybe because the work assigned is difficult. Maybe it's a combination of those things plus some. This workload is preparation for college, yet another source of anxiety.
The cost to attend higher education has risen by 260 percent, hand in hand with the pressure to attend higher education, Jackson informs us. This is only the beginning of the dominos starting to topple. After schools above high school level raised their prices and standards, so did each state, Paul E. Peterson explained in a 2016 EducationNext article.
Members of Generation Z are definitely badgered to perform well in academics -- or if not, then perhaps an extracurricular activity that will become of value later on in life. The pressure engulfs each member of Generation Z as well as the members of younger generations 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- a lifestyle older generations know nothing about.
To get a better idea of what it was like for other generations to grow up, I sat down with my seventh grade English teacher Carl Acton to discuss the differences between our teenage generation and his Millennial teenage generation. As he and as those on the opposing side of the argument may express, bullying has decreased in person. Racism, sexism and derogatory terms for people of all kinds are minuscule compared to in our past.
That may be true, but young people from all over are coming up with new and sneakier ways to bully, such as online harassment. Although it may look like it, bullying hasn't stopped. Despite my well-off lifestyle, education and consistent privacy settings, my personal social media is proof that such behavior has not ceased to exist -- it's just a little harder to identify for most. Comments that could appear to be comical from the outside are, more often than not, hurtful.
I believe that it is harder for Generation Z than generations in the past at this stage. Each member is stretched to their limits when it comes to the pressure and influence they experience regularly. Bombarded by uncensored information every waking hour of every moment of our lives, it's no wonder anxiety and suicide rates are increasing. The constantly growing social media platforms are swarming with bullies and people being bullied. And perhaps the most guilty of all is the extraordinarily high academic standards to top it off.
It may be too late to reverse these growing issues, but it's more important than ever that adults make an effort to understand the challenges of being a teenager. Doing so would help this generation, and the many to come, enormously.
Mia Marcellana is a freshman at Grandview Heights High School.