World of worry for net teens
World of worry for net teens

Picture: Ian Munro

Children in their mid-teens in Perth may be more in touch with world affairs and less obsessed with their Facebook pages than parents give them credit for.

Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2009, is the first 21st-century generation.

For the most part, they are the children of Generation X (born between 1963 and 1980).

They are more technologically literate than their predecessors and face some of the most complex challenges the world has had.

The Perth teenagers _The West Australian _met at YMCA HQ in Leederville were aged 14 to 16 and had the trademark addiction to social media their generation is renowned for, with most saying they spent several hours chatting online with friends each night.

But, surprisingly, many of them were concerned about the impact social media was having on their ability to communicate.

When asked what the biggest issue facing the world was, their answers reached much further than the cyber community.

Poverty, climate change, human rights and oil supplies were on their minds as they pondered their futures. Despite scary reports of violence coming out of Northbridge in recent years, all six teenagers felt Perth was a safe city to live in.

However, Brendan McGrath, 16, said violence was one of the biggest issues in the world today, with the London riots sticking in his mind.

Curtin University professor of cultural studies Jon Stratton said there was increased social concern among Generation Z because they had unprecedented access to images from around the world.

Professor Stratton said today's children would have grown up quicker because they would have been exposed to so much more via the internet.

"Things you would previously read about, now you can actually see, and that has a much bigger impact," Professor Stratton said.

"It becomes much more of an available worry. There's so much information out there, but what is increasingly happening is that people are picking and choosing what they want to know about."

Professor Stratton said it would be Generation Z's absolute acceptance of the internet and the dominance of digitalisation that would define them. He said they would grow up with a lack of distinction between public and private and multi-tasking would come naturally to them.

"This is a generation that will have never been out of contact with people and never will be," he said.

"They will have an absolute acceptance of being available anywhere, any time."

Despite knowing so much more than their parents did at their age, most were worried about flying the coop and growing up.

Isabella Signorile, 14, said she was afraid of getting into trouble and not having her mum to help her out.

"It's a big world," she said.

The West Australian

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