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What is Gen-Z missing out on today?

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What is Gen-Z missing out on today?

By Jo-Ann Tosen

What was the old-fashioned childhood that our parents – Gen Y – lived through really like? Do we have the ultimate childhood? Or were they onto something?

Before we continue, let’s discuss what Gen Z means. Most probably all of you reading this are part of this generation. Generation Z consists of those born in the years from 1995 to 2015.  Generation Y would be our parents’ generation.

Many may say that their generations before you had the best childhoods of all time. Today’s kids are programmed to play with the latest technology.  They – we – are wired with cellular devices. Our eyes ‘turned square’ before we could learn how to walk and talk. Have you ever given a big sigh when your parents didn’t know how to hook up a device or swipe left and right on the touch screens? Then congratulations, you are part of the Gen Z club!

1. Play dates

“Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around.  Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the ground!”

If any of you know this song you would know that it is sung during jump rope games. Previous generations had road trips for play dates or a chase through the woods. If you came home with a few scrapes on your knees, then you had had quite the day. Playing on the streets isn’t exactly safe for us anymore. Instead we would invite each other over and take out our phones, or maybe switch on the play station. Is it more fun to climb a tree in a game or in real life? Most of us, I hope, would agree – real life!

2. Movies

When our parents were teenagers, it was a popular outing to go watch movies with your friends. They went to drive-in movie theatres or picked out movies from the DVD store. Today we would go to the cinemas or scroll for an eternity through Netflix, deciding what to watch.  Oh, and what’s a movie without some good popcorn and a soda?

3. DIY projects

Way easier to just buy what we want rather than making them by hand, right? Well, apparently for our parents it was loads more fun to make it all by yourself and then feel proud at the end once you had finished it. You felt much more special tie-dying your shirt, than buying a new shirt and seeing your best friend with the same one the next day.

4. Road trips

Whether it was a trip with your family or with your friends, there was always something happening. Generation Y would sing with the radio, or play “I spy with my little eye” or any other games to keep themselves busy. Better yet, they would enjoy the view outside the window. Nowadays we are all in our own corner, with our own headphones, doing our thing on our phones. I mean, what is the point of having a road trip when you’re not really spending time with each other?

5. Parks, dogs and ice-cream trucks

Not many of us walk our dogs to the park anymore, mainly because it isn’t safe and also because we would rather stay at home and watch television or anything else technology has brought into our lives. Also, our parents got to run after the ice-cream truck, which sounds like much more fun than simply picking flavours from the freezers in the stores.

6. Parties

For us it’s all about hanging with the right crew and being popular. All we care about is having the party of the year, with a beer keg in the corner and couples kissing in every hallway. At a party like this you are sure to have the best party. Right? Well, that’s not exactly how Gen Y lived out their parties. Sometimes there would be a theme to the party, allowing them to dress up in ways they wouldn’t normally and the music would be blaring from the radio in the back yard. Okay, perhaps there was some alcohol too and teenagers just having a little fun, but today we’re having just a little too much fun and often putting ourselves at risk.

7. Love

Teens today – sorry to burst your bubble – don’t know what love is anymore. We go on dates just because everyone else is doing it. We say “I love you” just because and go beyond our limits just to prove we love one another. Gen Z is missing out on the big meaning of what love is. In the olden days, the boy would pick you up, meet your parents, shake the father’s hand and promise to have their daughter home by ten. Then there would be many dates after that where they did different things together and learned about each other. Slowly the love would grow and often last.

8. Music

In a restaurant today you hear music from the speakers above you, where people from before our time listened to the juke box. Sometimes they even had a tiny one at each table where you could choose your own song.

Another thing our generation is missing out on is vinyl records. Sure, it is easier to just plug in those earphones of yours, but there’s just something special about sliding on that record and listening to music in a way it just can’t be heard digitally.

9. Technology

Okay, maybe having a flat-screen TV is cool, but our parents never complained about their black-and-white movies. To them, it was absolutely magical! Today it is completely normal for Gen Z – nothing special.  And how much do we freak out when a new episode is featuring and the power goes out.

Do you remember that old phone in your grandmother’s house with the pig-tailed cord to limit the distance you can walk with? Those were the phones our parents as teens had used for hours, speaking to romantic interests. We have fancy cameras and phones to take pictures with, but wouldn’t it be challenging to try and take the perfect shot with a Polaroid camera? Our technology today may make things easier in life, but in those times there were no shortcuts, and life should be all about the long and hard roads to success.

10. The little things

They say the little things are the memorable parts of life.  Let’s take a look at the little things we missed out on: folding origami notes and passing it around in class, stacking those Disney movie tapes higher and higher as you buy new ones, playing around with “Gak”, scented and stamp markers, Beanie Babies, Waterful Ring-toss, Pinball games, tiny Polly Pocket homes and of course ceilings full of stars. Do we have little things of our own?

Are we robots who need technology to function? It’s not that technology is bad. It is created to make our lives better after all, but that shouldn’t control our minds. There is no harm in creating new technology to help simplify our jobs, time, etc – unless you make actual robots who’ll take over the world of course – but maybe we should rethink a little the way we live. We need to get back in touch with the earth and just enjoy the little things in life.

The opinions stated in this article are not necessarily those of TeenZone Magazine. If you’re interested in sending us your opinion on a topic of your choice, please send an email through to lizzie@panorama.co.za and we will advise you on the next steps. 

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