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The Hypocrisy of Older Generations and Cell Phones

by Aliza Rhein

How often have you heard from a parent that you’re on your phone too much?

If you’re like me, you get that comment at least five times a day, or anytime you whip out your phone, never mind that for the previous bunch of hours you were using it for school work. I notice that while I have no problem leaving my phone in a separate room, my mom and dad are never without theirs, so much so that I debate saying that right back to them.

It’s time to turn the tables.

According to Leftronic, a tech website, 75% of adults text and drive. The Denver Post says that the average American spends 11 hours on their phone daily. These statistics may be much higher, after all, how many of you will willingly admit to doing something illegal or seen as negative?

Many of these adults also sleep with their phones and have separation anxiety. I often take extended breaks from my phone, and I’ll simply shut it off, put it in a drawer, and won’t turn it back on for three to four days.

Every time I do this, my mom freaks out, wondering how she’ll contact me in an emergency. What happens if I take the car and she can’t call me? I just laugh and enjoy the pressure-free time, where I’m not bound to answer the barrage of texts, calls, and random notifications I experience daily.

I was once at my cousins’ house when WhatsApp, a global texting app, went down. On a phone fast at the time, I didn’t even realize what was happening. My aunt, who is in her 40s, was freaking out, almost hyperventilating, unable to reach her friend to ask her a question. When WhatsApp was back up a mere 20 minutes later, she had already forgotten what she wanted to ask, it was so unimportant.

As the generation that grew up with phones, we’ve learned to integrate them into our lives better. Gen Z “know[s] how to fact-check everything they need,” says Forbes. As a generation that thrives off of incomprehensible, absurd memes, we’ve had to fine-tune our lie odometers, something we’ve managed to do much more successfully than adults.

Gen X, Boomers and, to some extent, Millennials all grew up finding information in print. Books and newspapers were the information disseminators of the day. These mediums didn’t allow for just anyone to write something, they often had to be fact-checked and/or edited, ensuring the integrity of the reports.

However, now with the advent of social media, everyone has a platform, making it much easier to create and spread misinformation and disinformation. Pew Research Center reports that about one-third of Americans get their news from Facebook, while over 50% of Twitter users regularly get their news on the platform. The nature of social media creates an echo chamber, one that adults are not used to accounting for when getting their news. This means they still take the news at face value.

I don’t deny that I hear about world events from social media. I love Tumblr, for the zaniness and inane “news and facts” I get there. But before I tout this new information as truth, I take the time to research and see what the real world has to say about it. Otherwise, those tidbits get stored in my head as something that may be true but are just as likely to be wrong or a joke.

It’s time for adults to look in the mirror. Gen Z may use our phones often, but not any more so than adults spend on theirs. And while screen time may be up globally, Gen Z knows how to self-correct, so that our intake does not lead to the disastrous results that adult over-usage does.

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