California Educator

June/July 2019

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U R I N G B R E A K , stu- d e n t s h a n g o u t i n Brent Smi l e y 's cl a ss- room at Sherman Oaks Center for Enrich ed Studi e s in L o s Angeles. Most are on Chrome- book computers or looking at their phones. "We like technology," says Madisyn Mehlman, 12. "Most of us have phones. I remember playing on my dad's smartphone when I was 2, pressing the buttons." A b o u t h a l f of t h e m i d d l e s c h o o l e r s s ay t h e y a re o n s o c i a l m e di a . Ma ny sp e n d th e i r f re e ti m e t e xti n g a n d using FaceTime. Kevin Nguyen, a sixth-grader, says he spends his weekends playing games online, which he calls "technically hanging out with friends." Classmate Juanito Cornejo relies on Snapchat to keep up with what his friends are doing. "ey are very comfortable in an environment where everyone can see everything," says Smiley, a social studies teacher for 30 years and member of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). "They have never known a world without being watched, being under surveillance in airports and public places since 9/11 and now online." His students don't grasp the importance of the Fourth Amendment, which establishes the right to privacy, because they are constantly shar- ing their lives on social media. Unlike baby boomers and Generation X, whose members were proudly known for caring little about what others thought of them, this generation cares deeply, says Smiley. "at's why bullying and teen suicide is so much higher in this gener- ation. You can't be bullied if you don't care what the bully has to say. But in this generation, kids live and die based on what others have to say." e reason for the change, he believes, is the Internet. HOW MUCH TIME IS TOO MUCH TIME ONLINE? A student in Smiley's classroom, Melania Juga, 12, says she spends a lot of time on Snapchat and Instagram. She likes looking at "influencers" who tell her what is trendy. Like most Gen Zers, she avoids Facebook. "Sometimes it feels like too much," she shares. "Sometimes it feels like being on my phone gets in the way of life and other things I want to do, like sports and hobbies." Je a n M . Tw e n g e , p s y c h o l o g y p r o f e s s o r a t S a n Diego State University, is author of iGen : Why Today's Su p er -C onn e ct ed Ki d s A re Grow in g Up L e ss R eb el - lious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood (2017). e California Fac- ulty Association member, who refers to Gen Z as iGen, interviewed teens and analyzed data from studies involv- ing 11 million Americans from 1967 to the present to enhance understanding of this generation and its impact on our future. Twenge found that every day high school seniors are spending an average of 2.5 hours texting, about two hours on the Internet, 1.5 hours on electronic gaming, and a half hour on video chat. at's 6.5 hours a day — and that's only during their leisure time. Eighth-graders are not far behind at five hours a day. Jean Twenge says that smartphones have helped lessen the digital divide. 22 The Challenges D special report

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