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Generation Z Isn’t Defined by Technology

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When my daughter was 13, she mused, “I wonder what it’s like to be a typical teenager.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You know, someone who uses Facebook and texts a lot and stuff like that.”

I was struck by how she had so readily bought into a stereotype about teens, even as she felt alienated from this description of her generation. Why do we assume there are “typical” ways for teens to use technology?

Like Millennials, Generation Z is most often thought of through its relationships with digital platforms. Gen Z has been described as the “smartphone generation” or the “app generation.” While Millennials came of age in the heyday of Myspace and Facebook, Generation Z is full of smartphone-trained kids who prefer Snapchat and Instagram. Today my daughter is 20. She posts regularly on Snapchat and Instagram and browses Facebook to keep tabs on old friends. She never watches live television, but she loves BuzzFeed and YouTube videos. By most accounts, she’s typical of Generation Z.

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