Thursday, August 1, 2019

Big Tech creates much different generation

I always thought "Snooze Button Generation" was a better name than "Generation X." But, OK, Snooze Button Generation didn't stick in the mainstream, and I accept that.

However, I think there is hope that "iGen" replaces "Generation Z." Totally better and possible. ... Maybe.

I absolutely love Jean Twenge's opus iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood. (2017)

Normally, I don't include the subhead to the title of books in this project. However, the stuff after the colon in iGen is so totally awesome that it needs to be there.

In our modern world, it is shocking how quickly things change, and I feel embarrassed for myself and older generations who don't understand the rapid pace of change. As a teacher and father of 14-year-old and 12-year-old girls, I try my best to understand their world, but do I really understand?

In iGen, Dr. Twenge delves into many, many studies and research to synthesize what her kids, my kids and my students are doing. Generation Z, or iGen, will be the least married, least procreating generation in our country's history. I used to have ill-conceived stereotypes of Millennials and Gen Z, and her work uses data to confirm, or deny, many of these notions.
Back in 2008, I had a bizarre notion. "Why don't I get divorced and go teach high school?"

I did that. Somehow, I knew that would be the best move to be the best dad, and best person, that I could be. My premise back in 2008 was to try to truly understand current kids in order to help my parenting. It was a good move.

Of course, each generation is limited with understanding other generations, but I believe we owe it to others of different ages to try our best with understanding their worlds. With iGen, Dr. Twenge uses data to support what I see. This is, indeed, the first generation that had iPhones and iPads from the day they were born. That is a game-changer on various levels, and there are many unintended consequences of this.

Perhaps the irony of parenting is that parents often try to prepare their children for a world the parents had. Unfortunately, kids will be entering a much different world. To me, a good parent works hard to understand the time and place and helps children learn to monitor themselves.

That leads me to screen time. My personal feeling is that Google Chromebooks in classrooms in first grade is far too early. Kids need hands-on learning, and I feel kids should not have devices at home until first grade — or later.

Americans are wild when it comes to parenting. They often put the child in the center of their lives, but that may foster selfishness or self-absorption. Then, a device is handed to the kid at such a young age that emotional and social skills can become secondary to personal technology.

No doubt, it's a tricky time to be a parent or a child, and the power of Big Tech has changed an entire generation. I thank Dr. Twenge for her research and synthesizing the trends of iGen.

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