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Generation Z Is Far More Nuanced About Tech Than Its Predecessors

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From messages to memes, today’s generation of teens and young adults are well-versed in Internet culture. Although understanding the newest trends is easy and fun for Gen Z, parents and older adults often find themselves confused and uncertain about what exactly their kids are doing on their phones. When this uncertainty morphs into distrust, it can cause an unhealthy breakdown in parents’ communication with their children. It’s human instinct to fear what we do not understand—but there’s a sharp line between engaged, critical discussion about generational differences in media use, and assuming the worst and stoking fear.

Recently, Jean Twenge, a psychologist whose research focuses on generational traits, published a book that seeks to define the character of this new generation. In her book, iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy, and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood (and What It Means for the Rest of Us), Twenge paints a picture of a socially aware but also fearful, depressed, and immature group of kids who only want to be on their phones all the time. Drawing from interviews with 23 teens and national data from four longitudinal surveys, Twenge spends the book describing many parents’ worst nightmare.

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