Over half of those in Generation Z (kids born between the years 1996 and 2011) are getting their first cell phones before their seventh birthday. Also referred to as iGen, today’s kids ages 5-19 are considered the first true digital natives — those who don’t remember a time before social networking or smart phones — so it makes sense that they’re being referred to in i-terms. The trend toward kids with smart phones, tablets, and other electronic devices is a touchy topic for some, but like it or not, technology is here to stay.
So how should parents of Centennials respond? Let’s look at some potential pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Interpersonal Communication Problems
While there are plenty of critics citing iGen issues with in-person connecting, their prescribed antidote is only part of the answer: “The key is to make sure your kids know that real living takes place offline.”
According to Danah Boyd’s (free!) recent book, It’s Complicated: the social lives of networked teens, parents are partly to blame. She says that today’s teens are desperate for interpersonal connecting due, in part, by overprotective, overscheduling parents.
With limited free time, mobility, and social contact, social networks provide the only solution to teens’ need for community. And most teens go online for precisely that reason: Most of their online interactions serve to enhance offline relationships. The issue has become prominent enough to spark resources like these, focused on encouraging better face-to-face communication skills.
Privacy and Image Concerns
Unlike the oversharing typical of Gen Y, Generation Z has adopted a more private online identity. These kids are mindful of their public image, so they’re savvy with subtweets and tend to use text or chat to discuss things they realize they want to remain private. Apps that protect anonymity or allow messages and other media to disappear also play into this ideal; both can have downsides, though, and kids need to be informed about their associated dangers. Online blackmail and cyberbullying are real, and really dangerous.
The concern over image can also be detrimental, causing a problematic narcissism and anxiety over image. Selfie-addiction is being seen, not as an issue on its own, but as a symptom of the kind of low self-confidence that comes from being obsessed with image that usually coexists with a high sense of entitlement combined with a lazy work ethic.
As significant as those issues are, it’s not all gloom-and-doom. The only way our kids will survive and positively impact society isn’t to throw their cell phones, tablets, and laptops out the windows. In Part 2, we’ll look at a third concern and then consider some possible solutions.
Here at The Bedroom Source, we carry several lines that are part of the Smartstuff™ Collection from Universal Furniture, designed with iGen in mind, with pieces designed to accommodate today’s plugged-in kids. Our Smartstuff furniture is available in a variety of styles and colors.
The Bedroom Source
Located near the Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island, NY, the Bedroom Source is your source for the best collection of children’s and teen bedroom furniture. From flexibly configurable Maxtrix furniture to fashionable custom-designed upholstered beds, The Bedroom Source offers high end furniture and professional design assistance to create the bedroom of your child’s dreams.
Contact the friendly staff at The Bedroom Source by calling (516) 248-0600 or by visiting www.BedroomSource.com. We’re a local family owned mom & pop store. When you shop with us, you’re dealing directly with the owners. We professionally assemble everything we sell. We deliver to Long Island, the 5 Boroughs of New York City, Rockland, southern Connecticut, and northern New Jersey.
Image credits: Top © Kzenon/Fotolia; 2nd © Monkey Business/Fotolia.