Three clicks and eight keystrokes. That’s how long it takes me to get to Facebook. It takes another four to retweet a post on Twitter and 21 to create a brand new Twitter profile.
The human race is living in an unprecedented age of connectivity. According to the International Telecommunication Union, about 48 per cent of the world’s population are using the internet. In the United States, 8 in 10 have access to the internet. While adults are often shocked by the power of the web, amazed by how easy it is to watch the weather radar, for kids like me in Generation Z, it’s not unprecedented. It’s our normal.
I was born in 2000, the same year that saw the rise of digital music and the release of the world’s first touchscreen. This makes me one of the more than 65 million Americans who belong to Generation Z, the people born between 1995 and 2010 with technology in their DNA.
Outsiders sometimes gawk at our ‘addiction’ to technology. They cry out that kids are addicted to their phones, ruining their days with social media and gaming sites. In some respects, they're onto something. Research links excessive cellphone usage to depression, stress and the like. Yet, kids glued to their phones in restaurants, subways and even bathrooms are an everyday sight. While I’m not condoning spending eight hours on Instagram or playing Candy Crush at the dinner table, outsiders often forget what the internet has provided Generation Z: opportunity.
Take Twitter, for example, a cohort of 313 million active users with 40-plus supported languages. Generation Z has capitalized on this platform, sharing information and ideas on culture, terrorism, education, race, women’s rights – the list goes on.
My generation has virtually unlimited information on our world – we form opinions and values with a much broader perspective than those who came before us. It’s no longer just about what our parents, teachers and peers tell us. It’s about what we believe based on the information we now have.
What we do with this information doesn’t stop with a retweet – technology provides the tools necessary to act on these values. For me, it took exactly 20 clicks to reach out to an organization that provides students in the United States with fundraising opportunities to help other kids go to school. After those 20 clicks, a box full of handmade coconut bracelets showed up at my door. Within days, my team and I had raised enough money to send Zoe, a Guatemalan girl, to school for an entire year.
I'll never see Zoe. But kids like me in Generation Z, I believe, do sincerely want to better their world. Whether it be starting a petition online or writing blog posts for UNICEF’s Voices of Youth, technology is one of our most powerful tools for change.
And lastly, to my peers in Generation Z: We must all remember that as children of the digital age we have immense power. Let’s use it for good.
What will you do in 20 clicks?
This article was written by Jenn Little, 16, as part of the 2017 State of the World's Children report.