Digital and social media is transforming your children. Here are some staggering facts about Gen Z and technology (those born between 1999 and 2015):
- Gen. Z is the 1st generation to grow up with social media as a daily reality
- 57% of Gen. Z teens use a screen four or more hours/day
- 51% Gen. Z’ers say they value happiness, but research indicates they struggle to find it
- In 2011, for the first time in 24 years, the teen suicide rate was higher than the teen homicide rate
It is now accepted fact through much social research that technology is isolating our kids more than ever and failing in its promises to meaningfully connect us.
Here’s the good news, as the Church of Jesus Christ we have an incredible opportunity to offer Gen Z hope as we train this next generation of believers to redeem technology to love God and love people.
5 Ways You Can Help Gen Z (And Yourself) Redeem Technology
1. Put your device down, and ask them to as well
Our devices create a barrier to being truly present and in the moment. It’s time to lead by example. My technology addiction will result in my children’s technology obsession. When your kids or students ask “Why?”, teach them: “People are infinitely more valuable than technology. Always.”
Here’s a healthy rule to implement personally and with your kids: When I am with people, I am off my technology.
2. Model and train kids in the skill of empathy
Digital isolation kills not just self-awareness but also awareness of others. Relationships are about being present and interested in the people we are with. Finding people interesting enough to engage and curious enough to know is a skill that must be taught. We will never engage and understand another person until we are mentally and emotionally present.
3. Create impactful experiences in the real, physical world
Younger generations are obsessed with experiences. Because of technology’s addicting nature, kids will almost always choose a digital experience over a physical one. The irony is that digital worlds statistically cultivate isolation. As we lead our families, we must be creating daily and weekly experiences in the physical world our families will enjoy.
4. Say no to phones and tablets for as long as you can
The pressure to get your kid a phone, tablet, computer, etc… is strong. Many other parents will do it. Resist the urge. Your kids will demand it. Say no. A great rule of thumb is that all family technology is shared until a kid can 1. pay for it, 2. has shown the maturity to handle it, and 3. has the proven ability to choose people over technology.
5. Show them the hope of the gospel
In a digital world that promotes the illusion of happiness and perfection, Christ welcomes those who are aware of their brokenness to find healing, hope, and reconciliation with God through his cross.
Stay tuned for more articles related to specific age groups and strategies you can employ to deal intentionally with our new digital reality in your own homes.
Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation. (Ventura: Barna Group and Impact 360 Institute, 2018)