There was Gutenberg’s printing press around 1450, Bell’s telephone in 1876, radio in the 1920s and television in the 1940s.

The world-changing media technology for Generation Z was introduced in 2007 — the iPhone.

Young Gen Z’ers have had a tablet or phone in their hand almost from the moment they could hold one. Older members have at least had internet access from a young age.

Jason Dorsey of the Center for Generational Kinetics in Austin, Texas, notes that 95% of Gen Z own a smartphone. More than half of the generation use it more than five hours per day, he said, and “many spend double-digit hours each day on their phones.”

Does Gen Z spend all this time on their smartphones because they prefer that to face-to-face communication?

Although that’s a common stereotype, experts and members of the generation see it a little differently.

“What we find is that an inexpensive mobile device really does begin to connect people to the world and that internet access changes not just how young people see the world but how they see themselves in relation to the world,” Dorsey said. “That’s what’s so powerful.”

Although technology provides new ways to connect, the “soft skills” of heavy users might suffer not only in the workplace but also in their personal lives.

“Technology allows us to communicate with anyone around the world,” said Gen Z member Abby Wendel, a radiology technologist with IU Health. “But I think it has limited our overall ability to create relationships with others and has stunted the growth of personal communication skills, particularly in our younger generations.”

“I don’t find face-to-face communication intimidating, but I do prefer text and email because it’s more convenient,” she added.

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