These days, it's hard for me not to contemplate what technology has done to the awkward phase of teen angst. I recently came back from a weekend at home, where I watched my 16-year old sister constantly use her phone, and was inspired to think about the effect smartphones have had on that sweet spot between your teens and twenties. You know, the age when everyone is trying to figure out if it's still OK to wear flip-flops with jeans or if crop tops were really left in the '80s. This common coming-of-age tale is now totally different.
I grew up in the '90s, which was flat in between Richard Simmons's aerobic videos and the invention of high speed internet. It was an honest time where your parents really didn't know where you were because no one had a cell phone, GPS, or iMessage. During those days, the Summer nights felt like forever and you knew when to come in for dinner . . . when the front porch light started flickering. Since that time, the rise of technology has drastically changed our lives, and everyone is a victim. Gone are those carefree days unencumbered by digital crutches. Today, we depend on our pocket-sized gadgets to guide our daily routine from exercise apps to music suggestions. Even the most basic tasks, like going to sleep, are affected digitally in some way.
While all of us have been affected, this weekend with my sister made it clear to me that the digital age has had its greatest impact on the adolescent experience of generation Z, where life is lived through a curated stream of likes, follows, and filters.
After observing my teen sister and scratching my head at her digital life, I started reminiscing about my own teen years and compared it to my sister's. As you'll see ahead, these differences totally define our two generations.