The Internet as an Irreplaceable Tool
Gen Z’s are the first generation to be born in a world where the internet plays an irreplaceable role, and in some way, these children and adolescents are not just consumers but have become inhabitants of the digital society. Apart from school, generation Z spends most of their time on their cellphone, computer, and videogame console, more than they do outside playing sports or any other activity that doesn’t require a technological device. Their fluency with technology surpasses that of prior generations, and this is not a “bad thing” in a world that is always evolving and pumping out new technologies. However, this unprecedented access to the internet exposes them to an almost infinite realm of experiences, both positive and negative.
From primary school to university, many kids, adolescents, and young adults use social media daily. Apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok have emerged and really resonated with Gen Z’s, so much so that they have become the cornerstone of modern connectivity, enabling constant interaction and cultivating relationships among young users. They offer a space to chat with friends, share bits of their lives, find new hobbies and interests, stay informed about their favourite bands and artists, and so much more.
Video games have also become a big pillar of Gen Z’s lives, especially among the male population. These forms of entertainment have evolved from their precarious beginnings with games such as Pong, Pacman, and Mario Bros, which were single-player games, to more modern and complex environments. Games like Call of Duty, Fortnite, and Minecraft have transcended mere entertainment, morphing into immersive experiences that stimulate skill development, strategic thinking, and social camaraderie. They offer a dynamic platform where friends and strangers can play together, interact with each other to improve their characters, complete campaigns, and ultimately level up.
The introduction of video conferencing for educational purposes has been revolutionary, particularly in unforeseen circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic. It has ensured uninterrupted learning when physical attendance at school wasn’t feasible, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the students expert knowledge of technology. This same expert knowledge was what separated them from many of their teachers, who weren’t ready to make videoconferencing one of the main spaces in which to spend their time. It is this disparity in skill that leads to some of the challenges that will be covered next.
What’s negative about all of this?
While all of these environments can lead to positive experiences and improvements, they can also lead to extremely dark outcomes, especially for younger demographics. Let’s take social media, for example. It’s super fun; it lets them keep up with family, the world, and more, but it can also leave them vulnerable to fake profiles run by bad actors, harassment, offensive comments in their pictures, explicit content, and many others.
Video games can be a great tool for cultivating strategic thinking and comradery, but they can also morph into a hub for hate. Chats with stragers can lead to kids encountering offensive language, aggressive players, and more.
And last, because of the disparity between the teacher’s knowledge of technology and the student’s, kids are vulnerable to cyberbullying through chat groups and online harassment from other kids.
Its clear by now that the unregulated nature of these digital spaces poses significant risks to young users.
What’s the solution?
If children are the concern, parents can employ many strategies to create a safe digital environment. Implementing app restrictions and managing screen time are effective measures. By utilising parental control apps or device settings, parents can limit access to certain apps or websites deemed inappropriate for their child’s age or maturity level. Setting time limits encourages a healthy balance between screen time and other activities, promoting overall well-being.
But what about online classes? Or what about adolescents and young adults? This is where this type of protection comes short, and promoting awareness of content moderation technologies for tech companies is needed.
The Crucial Role of Content Moderation
What is content moderation, and how can it protect Generation Z? We define content moderation as “the strategic process of evaluating, filtering, and regulating user-generated content on digital ecosystems” in one of our latest articles that you can check out by clicking here.
Implementing efficient moderation tools, especially AI-driven solutions, becomes critical in shielding young users from potential harm. AI-based moderation offers real-time identification and mitigation of harmful content, serving as a proactive shield against explicit imagery, offensive language, and cyberbullying.
Empowering platforms with effective content moderation tools is crucial for creating safer online environments for children and adolescents. Increasing awareness and advocating for their integration can catalyse the development of more secure digital spaces, ensuring the well-being and growth of young users.
The internet has unequivocally embedded itself into Generation Z’s life, providing new opportunities and difficulties. Kids, adolescents, and young adults face both rewarding experiences and possible threats as they navigate social media, video games, and online schooling.
While social media helps people connect with each other, it also exposes them to cyberbullying and inappropriate content. Video games, on the other hand, are entertaining and can work as a tool to learn strategic thinking, but they also give people a place to say hurtful things and be violent. Lastly, the rapid adoption of videoconferencing in education has emphasised the gap between students’ technological ability and teachers’ preparation, leaving young minds vulnerable to cyberbullying.
Ultimately, raising awareness and advocating for comprehensive content moderation mechanisms are critical steps towards creating safer digital environments for the current and next generations. AI-based moderation has the ability to recognise, report, and censor offensive comments, harassment, and bad actors before they get to interact with people, making it an irreplaceable tool for navigating the internet.