April 22, 2019
Technology has always had a complicated relationship with Generation Z. Teens surveyed by the Pew Research Center recognized both the positive and negative aspects of online usage—it both strengthens relationships with friends, while ruining others with the lack of in-person contact and rampant rumor spreading.
“When it’s wielded for the good things in life, technology can have positive contributions in efficiency, information distribution, and building relationships with people. But, we can always take that a little too far— navigating information that we don’t need or not getting the necessary physical activity,” said author and speaker Meghan Grace.
According to Grace, those in Generation Z are often labeled as “digital natives”—individuals who were born into a technological world, whereas Millennials are described as “digital nomads.” As the generation before them learns more about technology throughout their lives, Generation Z is singled out for a natural aptitude for everything online related. “I honestly think that Gen Z is way smarter than I was at their age,” said Grace. “Technology is allowing people of different backgrounds to be able to access information at greater rates than any other generation or time period.”
According to Grace, a change in educational environments will most likely have to follow as well. Although technology has already been adapted into the lives of many students—Wayzata first implemented iPads with a select group of students in 2013—the next challenge will be to find incentive for students firmly rooted in the virtual aspects of learning.
“This massification of information is going to change the way that classrooms and education is structured,” said Grace. “If a student can read about this topic at home, what’s making them want to go to a physical place to learn?”
The technology section of this issue explores the changing environment Generation Z finds themselves in further. Looking primarily at how the prominence of technology use affects social lives, productivity, and health, our writers investigate what technology means to Generation Z—especially when it becomes a large part of their future careers.
The STEM Field Advances in Education
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs such as Compass are known for giving both intellectual education as well as hands-on education; the biggest reason being that 70 percent of jobs require both skills to make it in the modern workforce according to research done by Citrus College.
The income increase that comes with having a college degree, like a person with a bachelor degree earning an average of 22,000 dollars more annually than a person with an associate’s degree, is only based on the average of the 25-75 percentiles of full time adult workers so a traditional college degree is not an automatic setup to financial success in our current economy. STEM helps the students use their savings the most efficiently based on the savings.
Engineering, Technology, and Design Chair Member Kyle Swenson said, “There has been a lot of research done. For every ten jobs within the United States, two of them require a bachelor degree or more, one of them requires graduate work like a master’s degree or doctor’s degree, but 7 don’t require a bachelor, master, or doctor’s degree. They require some sort of targeted training.”
According to Swenson, despite the population growing within the US, this ratio has not changed since the early 1900s. “We were sending 80 percent of our students to fill only 30 percent of the jobs in the United States. That math doesn’t work there,” said Swenson. “We’re seeing now there’s tons of students that come out with college degrees, but their doing jobs that require a college degree.” According to Compass Coordinator Scott Tordeur, with the expansion of courses in the field over the last few years, requirements for courses to receive the title STEM will change: “We’re kind of changing what STEM looks like. For a lack of a better way of putting it, what boxes that would need to be checked off for a class to become a STEM course.”
More STEM courses in the future seems unlikely, however, to Tordeur because Wayzata would not want to become STEM designated. The title has to be “earned and deserved,” said Tordeur.
Social Lives and Technology: “hyper-connected”
Technology has become a staple in teenagers’ lives today. According to the Pew Research Center, 45 percent of teens say that they use the internet in any sort of way almost constantly. Whether it is an iPad used for school or a personal cell phone, technology has impacted teenagers’ lives in many different ways, especially when it comes to relationships. In particular, technology plays a part on how teeanagers interact with other teenagers. “I think all of our relationships are being affected by technology,” said Technology Author Janell Burley Hofmann.
Hofman said that connecting to others through technology allows them to improve socialization and improve their knowledge on issues they care about by engaging with others. “We are all more hyper-connected and constantly communicating,” said Hofmann. “Of course this can be wildly convenient and at the same time it can be a challenge if we would like some away time and space.”
According to Hofmann, technology also can take away from sleep and can become dangerously central to an individual’s life. “We also need to learn not feel offended if someone takes the space they need to decompress or leave their device off for a bit,” said Hofmann. “I think in our friendships and relationships we have pay attention to our connectedness and make our devices work for us.”
Family life has also been impacted by the boom in technology. “One of the most common challenges I hear from families is the impact on quality family time – dinner, conversation, riding in the car, hanging out together,” said Hofmann. Technology also affects classroom productivity—students can simply look up the answers to a question by pulling out their iPads. “It has never been easier to get information but sometimes it may even be too much information,” said AP Calculus teacher Curtis Wyffels.
According to Wyffels, he recognizes the promise technology offers, although he sees the downsides of technology within his classroom. Wyffels particularly notices students checking their email during class, playing games, and doing homework from other classes. “There are so many students just over the last five years who are so wrapped up in their phones,” said Wyffels. “There are a lot of people that they simply do not interact with.”
Tracking Screen Time: Measuring How Teenagers are Constantly Connected
In 2019, being a teenager in the United States is synonymous with owning a smartphone, tablet, desktop, or any smart technology.
How does the constant connection teenagers experience affect their day-to-day lives? According to a study administered by the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of teenagers
between the ages of 13 and 17 say that spending too much time on screens is a major issue facing their age group.
In order to examine how the use of technology consumes time, what effects technology has on real life, and more, the Trojan Tribune tracked the smartphone use of students, ranging
from freshman to seniors.