Media Generations

When I talk to my friends about our media usage, we often focus more on the negatives than the positives; we see how it has changed us so far and the potential effects it could have on us in the future. However, me and my friends share the luck of having grown up in a more analogue world than we live in now.

The first phone I ever “owned” was a tiny Samsung “brick” phone that I could call or text my parents with, in case of an emergency. I was 12. I was not allowed to have it on me in my free time, unless I was going out somewhere by myself. I was allowed my first smartphone with 14 and the following years, I was gradually allowed to be more active on social media sites.

The point I am trying to get to is that, although I am in the same generation as my little sister (Gen Z), who is 3 years younger than me, we have a very different approach to consuming media and, I would argue, that media has had a different effect on her than it has had on me. This is because, compared to my friends and me, she (and a lot of her friends) had a smartphone at age 11. She grew up, interacting with her phone and social media at an earlier age than me and, even though 3 years is not a lot of time relative to an entire lifetime, I think that exactly this age and earlier exposure to media, made her have an entirely different experience than me. She spends a lot more time consuming media than me, without reflecting on the negative effects it may have on her. She is a lot more open on social media, and less scared of sharing private information publicly, than me. She does not feel the need to spend time offline to detox from social media or streaming services. To put it shortly: she has developed a far more intimate and co-dependent relationship with her phone (and media in general) than I ever have or ever will. And the astonishing thing is: most of her same-aged friends are the same.

This is fascinating to me, because it feels like there is a difference between my age and my sister’s age that could be labelled a difference in generation, because of the different ways we used media growing up. For this reason, my friends and me often feel like we do not associate with Gen Z, but feel more connected to Millennials. Funny enough, I saw a video, in which a guy was complaining about the exact same phenomenon and labelled our group of people “Zennials”, as in, a mix between Gen Z and Millennials, which is what I shall label myself as going forward.

In conclusion, I think that Gen Z and future generations, will (although being labelled as ONE generation) be made up of groups of very different people, and will not be as homogenous and have as much of a shared experience as older generations, because of the rapidly changing media environment and it’s growing effect on/intrusion into our lives.

– Student 13595105


Published by Life in Media

Website dedicated to the Media Life/Life in Media project of Mark Deuze, Professor of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands).

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