A Generational Disagreement

How the Disconnect Between Different Age Groups Affects Their Mindsets

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Newer generations have grown up with the availability of technology and other factors that have set them apart from older generations. This divide has existed for a long time, but it can be seen in the classroom as well. “…there’s been a big disconnect in the classroom because we were online for so long,” Sophia Gutierrez said. “…communication in the classroom has really died down.” – Made in Canva

The conflicting views held by different generations has been a topic of conversation for many years. Despite this, as new points of disagreement arise, the disconnect between generations continues to be present.

Gen Xer and social studies teacher David Owens cites the evolution of technology as a main point of disagreement.

“Everywhere [people] go they’re attached…to a device, to a screen,” Owens said. “And unfortunately you’re making yourselves prisoners of your screen and your device, and you’re willingly giving up your personal freedoms to something that isn’t tangible.”

It is no secret one of the biggest differences between generations is the prevalence of technology in peoples’ everyday lives. This new development is in stark contrast with the way that baby boomers, like substitue teacher David Wickersham, grew up.

“We talked more with each other, we had to make our own fun with each other,” Wickersham said. “There were no videos or phones or anything like that.”

Gen Xers also reflect this idea of self-made fun.

“We spent a tremendous amount of time outside,” Owens said. “Video games were just becoming something that was attainable, but they were just something that you did when it was dark or when it was cold. Other than that, every sport that you can imagine, if it had a ball, if it had a stick, we played it.”

While the baby boomers and Gen Xers grew up without technology at all, millennials, like athletic trainer and sports medicine teacher Sophia Gutierrez, were caught in the middle of the shift from an age with no electronics to one that can not live without them.

“We had landline phones …where you had to walk into another room and stretch out the cord, and we had antennas on our TV,” Gutierrez said. “But as we started growing up, technology began to really advance…”

Now, Gen Zers, like Madisyn James (11), take full advantage of technology even for the little things.

“[When] I go to Target, I usually pull up directions [on my phone] every single time even though I know where it is.”

There is no question that technology has made some aspects of life easier, especially when students had to attend virtual school during the peak of COVID-19. The availability of electronics allowed students to continue their learning online from the safety of their homes. But the effects of that dependence on technology were largely felt when students were able to return to in-person classes.

“Ever since COVID, there’s been a big disconnect in the classroom because we were online for so long,” Gutierrez said. “Communication in the classroom has really died down.”

While the issue of technology is a point of disagreement between different age groups, another is attention span. In this day and age, the world is more connected than ever before, and because of this, news and objects are able to travel across the globe pretty quickly. This has caused newer generations to enjoy things for short periods of time before moving on to the next thing. Older generations see this loss of enthusiasm as a big change from when they were younger.

“I remember getting excited when the new Saturday cartoon would come out, or when a new movie would come out…” Wickersham said. “People were more excited about those kinds of things then they are today. I think it takes a lot more to get kids today excited than when we were growing up.”

Apart from the matter of enjoying things, the topic of family has also come up as a point of discord between generations. People from older generations tended to grow up in a home where both parents were present and you would do everything with your family.

“You ate with your family every night, you went to church with your family every Sunday,” Wickersham said. “It was more of a traditional family.”

Younger generations also place emphasis on the subject of family but in a different way. They often feel misunderstood by their parents, some of which were born two whole generations before they were. For this reason, many Gen Zers feel like they have benefited from having younger parents.

“Having a young mom made my life better in some ways,” James said. “She understood more of what I was doing, and was more considerate of me just being a kid.”

Ultimately, different age groups are bound to have contrasting opinions due to them growing up in completely different time periods where different things were normal. But it is up to both sides to try to understand where the other is coming from.

“[Different generations need] to be open minded enough to listen to the other side and be willing enough to accept what they say whether you agree with it or not,” Owens said. “[They are] coming from a different perspective on life, and there’s nothing one can do to the other to change that perspective.”