OPINION: Gen Z Strikes Against Generational Stereotypes

As older generations might believe, Gen Z is just a group of kids obsessed with their phones and other screens. Yet statistically speaking, millennials, Gen X and boomers are just as addicted to their screens. Research shows that 41% of Gen Z have been actively taking steps to reduce screen time, while only 30.5% of millennials have take action to reduce screen time. So why do older generations look down on Gen Z as teenagers who are addicted to their phones and can’t handle face to face interactions? Here at Francis Lewis, students disprove this stereotype on a daily basis by participating in the array of activities and clubs available to them.

Key Club is a prime example of teenage students at Francis Lewis disproving this stereotype.

“I think that the main stereotype that Key Club is disproving or going against is that I feel like Gen Zs are lazy or inactive in their community or school,” Key Club Vice President Christoper Xu said. “And Key Club definitely provides a wide range of activities for many students. To participate and this definitely does benefit students and our generation as a whole.”

“Students have a variety of reasons that they wanna join,” Xu said.  “Some of them might want service hours, while others might wanna have fun with their friends. Other people just might wanna join a club for social activities. So it’s a wide variety of ranges, reasons.”

Katherine Yusupov, sophomore and president of the Debate Club depicts her club as “an educational club,” where club members learn about “different types of debates.”

“It’s almost a class in the sense, even though it is a club,” Yusupov said. “It’s an educational club, so there’s still lessons every day, talking about the different types of debates.  We also have a lot of in-class debates about various topics. So they’re usually working with groups – either smaller groups or bigger groups – in order to come up with claims, counterclaims, rebuttals, and formulate their side of the argument.”

Debate club attendees wait “for the club to begin” and even spread “an hour in the club, learning about debate and practicing.”

“It just shows how hardworking they are in the sense,” Yusupov said. “They’re not watching their movies or playing video games, but instead they’re still at school. They’re still spending time waiting for the club to begin because we still start 11th period. So kids who end earlier of course have to wait in the library or wait in, under the space for the club to start.

“So they’re spending their personal time waiting for the club to start, and then they’re spending an hour in the club, learning about debate and practicing.”

Mr. Shi, adviser of the DIY club, explained how club attendees can aid the school community through their participation in the club.

“In general, they make their own stuff, ” Mr. Shi said. “I tend to think of it as something being mindful, right? You do whatever that could relax you. Help you deal with daily stress. That’s what I think of it.”

“Hopefully in the planning process they come up with something,” Mr. Shi added. “Some creative project they can use to  either benefit themselves,” Mr. Shi said, “or the school community or even the wider community itself.”

Mr. Shi, adviser of the DIY club, believes the stereotypes projected on Gen Z is no different than stereotypes given to previous generations.

“I do understand there is actual obsession of this generation, or even media’s characterization of this generation’s addiction to the electronic devices,” Mr. Shi said.  “But so is every other generation. Like my generation, when video games first came out, we were addicted to those, right? So every generation, they do have tendency to be quote/unquote addicted to the new technology of their generation, time.”