Gen Z flexing its muscles with the Tech Industry: Is that a good thing?
For all the criticisms of Gen Z having short attention spans and being socially awkward, one need only look at their influence on the tech industry to recognize that Gen Z’s power is real and growing. Complaints that Gen Z is unrealistic in how it expects corporations to respond to social justice issues and business ethics issues have been proven wrong. Just ask Life360 CEO Chris Hulls. Gen Z demanded more trust and more privacy, acknowledging the importance of safety.
And Life360 CEO Chris Hulls listened, creating a feature to provide the privacy, and hiring Gen Z-ers to help him design it.
Life360, created out of national disaster Katrina to help families find one another, has been everything it touted to be. It has helped alarm parents if their child was involved in an automobile accident, reassured parents of their child’s whereabouts after a school shooting, and even helped countless families feel secure that their child was where they said they would be. Kids, however, want some privacy; so they pushed back and lobbied for it through a campaign on TikTok to get Life360 banned.
Gen Z is conflicted. They want privacy from family monitoring apps like Life360, yet are willing to give consent to apps such as Tik Tok, Instagram, and Snapchat to own, share, and sell all of their personal data–geolocation, facial images, video performances, political endorsement, sexual orientation, and more. Their fight for privacy is garnering attention, and through pressure campaigns many are only now beginning to realize the power they wield in the tech world–and they are displaying it in very public ways, using platforms that are fully saturated with like-minded youth.
But at what cost?
Gen Z worries me. They have naivety issues, with children as young as five being lured, abducted, and psychologically shifted through the use of technology and apps. As a parent I pose this question- Do our kids really have the right to pick and choose their privacy options? My answer to this is no, they do not. We as parents, and those in the education system, are legally responsible for a child’s safety and well-being. So although Gen Z may have a voice that can build movements and stop corporations in their tracks, we must supervise these rally cries and find a common ground. Some solutions? Perhaps parents, educators, and children can band together to film our own TikTok series about the dangers of the internet? The input of all groups is necessary because some campaigns are only successful with specific groups. For ex., the anti-tobacco scare-tactic campaigns decreased adult smoking but did not move the needle much when it came to under-age nicotine consumption. Conversely, some of the data shows that state sponsored campaigns prove to be more impactful. Shall we reach out to our state representatives and connect with them on Tiktok?
It’s great that Gen Z has a voice, but that does not mean they should have the final say.
Dr. Lisa Strohman