Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Technology is making the younger generation unfit to navigate society

Kellyn Taylor
Illustration by Kellyn Taylor.

Opinions expressed in Beacon Op-Eds are not necessarily shared by the entire staff. It is the responsibility of Opinion editors to elevate each individual’s unique voice. 

Being a member of Gen Z, I was born in an era of dissociative innovation.

Technology has always played a major role in my life. As a generation born into the digital age, watching the uprising of the iPhone and social media, we have a general understanding of tech and how it has changed our daily lives, as we experienced much of the shift itself. While the generations born in the 1980s-2000s were still able to retain aspects of childhood away from tech, most not having access to smartphones and iPads until their teen or young adult years, what about the generations right after?

A new generation of kids, Gen Alpha, have been criticized for being raised with Apple watches and smartphones. The tech that my generation was clawing for is now quite literally at the next generation’s finger tips. In some ways, similar to the transition previous generations have gone through, these developments happened fast. Kids are being born into an age where an iPad is placed on their lap the second they are born as this is both an easy parenting solution for keeping kids occupied and a natural integration into society as the modern world becomes more dependent on technology.

The lack of oversight cultivated among Gen Alpha parents has resulted in a parenting style that exploits kids’ innate lack of discretion and self-control by taking tech for granted. 

The future of society and technology is here, and it is allowing the next generations to form an unhealthy dependence on technology. If parents are not educated and teachers are not trained on how to handle this next generation of students, our society will continue to make people reliant on technology to think for them. There are many reasons to overlook these problems from a parents point of view, as it is understandably much easier to give both your child and yourself a distraction from the overwhelming modern world. This is a brand new era of development for everyone, and therefore it has been difficult to really speak with certainty on the lasting effects of new tech. 

Through a millennial lens, tech can be viewed as mostly positive, as their generation was introduced to mind altering advancements, like the smartphone and social media soon after, at a reasonable age where tech was taken into use with mature restraint. Receiving tech at an older age as compared to Gen Z and Gen Alpha, Millennials tend to view technology with a positive outlook, using it as an aid. Millennials were able to take advantage of tech in moderation, unlike Gen Z or Gen Alpha who are being brought up on heavier tech consumption, ingrained almost immediately into their daily lives and making it a permanent resource kids are now reliant on. With this, the decision to give kids full reign of technology is not always taken seriously, as parents weigh the benefits of their personal gain over the potentially negative effects on their child’s development.

The effects of this on children are being seen specifically in classroom environments. With the start of the school year, educators took to social media to speak on the mass burnout many are experiencing, in part due to the large number of students that are struggling with all school subjects, along with social interaction. Despite having infinite access to knowledge, students are more isolated, distracted, and generally not as comprehensive as ever before. 

According to one teacher on TikTok under the user Finallyanedd, who uploaded a video discussing these issues, the majority of students are multiple grade levels behind. They explained that the kids cannot read, decode, write, and perform other basic skills.

“They can’t write a sentence, they don’t know what state they live in, they don’t know what region of the country they live in.” said Finallyanedd. “They’re coming to school with no background knowledge.”

These problems are largely due to the issue that students’ attention spans have been shuttered by the constant enabling distractions of tech that they are allowed at home. While it is the teachers job to educate their students, this is not an isolated issue with our education system, but rather an unexpected change in how kids are being brought up—and it has left teachers uncertain how to proceed.

“I don’t blame the kids,” said Finallyanedd. “I blame the adults.”

Kids are unable to function in traditional environments due to technological aids, which often prevent critical thinking and problem solving. In numerous educational scenarios, students often find themselves below the expected proficiency level. However, due to limited resources, teachers and institutions are unable to provide individualized support, leading to students being promoted to higher grade levels without adequate preparation.

Do we really want iPad kids to become our future doctors, entrepreneurs, and politicians?

It is important for parents of this age to recognize the flaws of technology and the tangible  damage it has on their children. Through actively educating themselves and becoming aware of these issues, parents can work to limit the dependence that they themselves have on technology, and most importantly how this is affecting their kids. By seeing past the convenience of modern day tech, parents can break these debilitating habits and incorporate more social skills, intelligence, and interconnectedness into raising their children.

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About the Contributor
Sydney Thomas-Arnold
Sydney Thomas-Arnold, Staff Writer
Sydney Thomas-Arnold (she/her) is a freshman journalism and anthropology/sociology student from Houston, Texas. Sydney hopes to eventually go into the field to study different cultures and document human experiences & lifestyles. When not writing for the Beacon, Sydney enjoys reading and listening to music.

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