Raising Generation Z teens has some interesting moments. For instance, I discovered that Netflix has an interesting effect on my teens—it turns them into sloths who only move when absolutely necessary. They love nothing more than plunking themselves in front of the TV binge-watching their favorite shows from start to finish.
Watching them made me nostalgic—and a little jealous.
I remember how it was when I was their age. I had to patiently wait for 24 hours to watch the next episode of my best shows. It was more dreadful if said shows came on weekly because then I had to endure the torture of waiting a whole seven days to see what happened next. Talk about suspense!
Living in a Bespoke World
Things are totally different now thanks to smart devices and the internet. Nowadays kids everywhere reap the benefits of living in a curated world where they can watch or read what they want when they want it.
It is a wonderful life but I realized that it has a darker side, too.
For one thing, more parents are complaining that their kids are choosing to stay tethered to their devices instead of doing something imaginative or creative. Teen internet addiction is a real thing, fed partly by having an enticing array of curated items—music, movies, games, etc.—delivered right to our kids’ screens.
While internet addiction is serious, I’m more worried about the death of imagination and creativity that my kids display. Even the younger ones rarely play pretend games anymore. They don’t spend hours wondering what their favorite TV characters will get up to next because they can watch whole seasons of those TV shows in days. Having what they like constantly fed to them on demand does nothing to spark their imagination.
Additionally, living in a curated world means that they miss out on the natural randomness and serendipity that can inspire innovation. They are only likely to be exposed to the kind of music they like or get suggestions for more books from their favorite author or genre. There’s no space for them to discover other books, songs or shows unless they go looking for them. This means that they might never discover anything outside their scope of interest.
Staying in the Comfort Zone
Another worrying thing is that living in a curated world encourages kids to stay in their comfort zones. My kids rarely try anything new unless I push them. As a result, they risk spending their lives in their own constricted self-centered worlds, unexposed to different perspectives and the beauty of looking at things from a different angle. Unless I teach them to consider other perspectives, my kids might go through life thinking that they- their likes, preferences or needs- supersede others’.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for curated content—but I’d also like to see my kids using their imagination, finding new interests, challenging their perspectives and discovering something new about themselves in the process.