UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | April 17, 2024

OPINION | Why Gen Z is ‘aging like milk,’ what we should do about it

People from Generation Z, born from 1995 to 2010, have faced many life-altering events, social media obsessions and political debacles. These events have had lasting impacts on this generation and how they respond to media. Mason Britton | Sun News Daily

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Aging like fine wine is often described for people who age gracefully like Paul Rudd or Salma Hayek.

But when I saw The New York Times article describing Generation Z as “aging like milk,” it stopped my train of thought and opened my mind to a realization – Gen Z is maturing faster than any other generation.

While millennials are looking younger than their age, Gen Z is buying anti-aging cream and retinol. This phenomenon is even gliding to Gen Alpha, where 10-year-olds are looking like they are 15 and taking over Sephora stores across the country for skin routines and makeup.

Our mental health, the effects of social media and world events have affected the way we have lived our lives.

Mental Health

Mental health is a concern amongst Gen Z. A study by the American Psychology Association shows that depression rates are on the rise, going up 63% from 2013 to 2018.

While this is concerning, this is a big reason why Gen Z is maturing fast. Depression and other mental health diagnoses can make a person more emotionally mature.  

“Can we blame them?” Professor Renee Engeln from the New York Times article said. “Gen Z grew up endlessly scrolling through idealized versions of their own faces and the faces of others.”

Social Media

Gen Z was the first generation to grow up in the digital age.

The physical and emotional impact that social media has had on Gen Z is resulting in rapid maturing that is starting to show effects. Maturing too fast can often result in eating disorders, self-harm and depression, which are relevant in our generation.

The endless scrolling paired with the unrealistic ideals of influencers and celebrities have brought a dilemma to Gen Z. We have the unfeasible wants and needs to look older than we are, which has now come to bite us in the back.

Most of Gen Z doesn’t remember a world without social media. Whether it be our parents having Facebook and capturing embarrassing moments of our lives or having it ourselves, we have been devoting our lives to social media.  

Collective Trauma

Since the beginning of our education, we have been bombarded with events that have impacted our education, giving us no choice but to mature. Some of these events include: 

Lockdown drills and security systems are something that no other generation has experienced as much at such a young age. For the first time, school is seen as a possible safety threat instead of a safe place to go.

Some of the older Gen Z students were just starting kindergarten when 9/11 happened. We didn’t know life before this traumatic event that would change our nation forever. Even though we were young or not even born when it happened, we have seen the significant changes it brought like war, terrorism and fear.

In a survey, 60% of Gen Z reported the pandemic had made their mental health worse. Being confined in our houses with little to no human contact messed us up.

These events affected the world and every generation. But it was different for Gen Z because we were children who grew up with uncertainty whether we understood it or not. We had to grow up and mature rapidly faster. Quite frankly, we had no choice.

Conclusion

Enjoy the moment. We are maturing too fast because we are growing up too fast. You don’t need anti-aging cream. You need a relaxing day. You don’t need to worry about becoming an adult all the time. You need to enjoy being 20 years old while you can.

Simple hobbies like hiking and playing an instrument are great for mental health. But this should motivate us to do better in life, and more importantly, protect the younger generations from collective trauma we had that could have been prevented.

Grow meaningful relationships in life, find a safe support system, look up and learn to enjoy life the way it is because Ferris Bueller once said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”