Social media is everywhere, said Communication Department lecturer Amanda Jordan. Each generation is found on different internet platforms based on varying motivations to find news or connect with brands, friends and family, she said.
Generation Z and those following will be the most globally connected generation ever because they were the first generation to grow up with access to the internet and social media, Jordan said.
Accounting senior Lindsey Rhodes said Generation Z is like two sides of a coin. Some note their disrespect and laziness, but she sees hope for the future.
Generation X or baby boomers were born from about 1966 to 1981, and Generation Y or millennials were born from about 1981 to 1996. Generation Z were born from about 1997 to 2009, and Generation Alpha will range from about 2010 to 2025, according to Pew Research Center.
Generation X is commonly found on Facebook, Generation Y on Instagram, while Generation Z and Generation Alpha are prominently found on Snapchat and TikTok, Jordan said.
Marketing freshman Madelyn Cerja described Generation Z as empowered through activism, but at the same time, social media can make false information seem true.
Social media can overload messages onto impressionable and developing brains, Jordan said. Younger generations are susceptible to harmful tactics and misinformation on the internet.
Things of interest appear and disappear quickly, and misinformation on the internet can be dangerous, Jordan said.
Social media can also be a toxic place for youth, Cerja said.
The younger side of Generation Z feels like they have to mature faster. Social media causes pressure to act older, Rhodes said.
Currently, Generation Z is split between different times in life. On the older side are those in college, and the younger side are those in middle and high school. There is a lot of change that goes on between these times, which creates the split in Generation Z, she said.
“College is greatly different as far as time management and responsibility and opportunity,” Jordan said. “It’s vastly different than what we all kind of experienced in high school.”
But, this is true for every generation, she said. People who are 10 years younger or older are going to be different from each other.
Being at the older end of Generation Z, Rhodes said she doesn’t associate with the negative aspects of her generation. But, she does relate to the positive aspects, like helping the world become a better place by spreading awareness and sharing perspectives, she said.
“Social media definitely has its massive benefits,” Jordan said. “But there are some big hurdles that we have to pay attention to as a society to make sure that it doesn't cause big problems.”