by Erin Quan
photo courtesy of unsplash.com
Generation Z’s increasing reliance on technology is a major issue that sets it apart from any other.
Also known as the generation that has never known life without the Internet, Gen Z is inclusive of those born between 1995 and 2015, making its members between three and 23 years old today. However, this easy access to technology at the young age of three has influenced an upbringing that later causes a dependence on technology throughout their lifetime.
A shift from traditional paper-and-pencil tests to those taken on the computer in schools encourages children to learn how to use the computer at an early age, thus further exposing them to the technology that later becomes the root of their addiction. The portability of a cell phone facilitates access at all times, thus tempting teens to check it frequently.
According to kidslox.com, phone addiction is rooted in three things: the phone’s role as a “part of our extended selves” and having themselves be recognized by the public. The pleasure teens receive by checking their phones is similar to winning a game and getting a reward, which releases dopamine, a chemical that controls the pleasure center of one’s brain. Dopamine causes one to feel content and pleased, thus explaining a tendency to turn what we think will only be a “quick check” into an endless scrolling on social media feeds.
A cell phone’s role as a part of our extended self refers to the attachment one has to it and why it causes panic when one does not have it with them. Teens often feel as if they have experienced a great loss when without a phone similar to the feeling of losing a part of oneself, and it causes anxiety.
The era of social media has made becoming “Internet famous” possible through different platforms available to the public, such as Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. The title “Content Creator” or “Influencer” refers to someone who has established a prominent online presence and is able to make a living off the content produced by collaborating with brands and promoting them, according to influencermarketinghub.com.
This newly created “career” appeals to teens especially as it seems like a simple, fun task for which they are also getting paid, and success in such a field is plausible for anyone. The desire for acceptance in the forms of likes and comments is also prevalent within the social media addiction, fueling the want to be widely recognized by the public and adding to the number of reasons teens are on their phones so often.
The term “nomophobia,” which refers to “the fear of being without a mobile device, or beyond mobile phone contact” was formed as an abbreviation for “no-mobile-phone phobia,” according to psychologytoday.com. A study mentioned in the article proved that “the average adolescent would rather lose a pinky-finger than a cell phone.”
According to other surveys on the website, in the United States, one in five people would rather not have shoes for a week than take a long break from their cell phone, and over half the participants of the survey never turn their phone off.
To cure nomophobia and phone addiction, psychologytoday.com recommends setting a specific time to be without a phone and engaging in a face-to-face conversation or having alone time. Another solution is to make one’s week equal parts human interaction and phone time.
Despite the need for technology in today’s society, phone addiction is a problem that needs to be solved sooner than later to prevent future generations from gradually becoming worse at human interaction and communication.