The transformation of online media

2020. It’s a new year, a new decade, and it has technological revolution written all over it. The likes of which haven’t been seen since the late nineteenth century. Soon the world will be overrun with AI, GMO babies and new “new and improved” technologies. However, the most drastic change of this era isn’t the technology at all.

I’m sure you’ve heard something along the words of, “Back in my day…” from an adult at least once in your life. This, in my opinion, takes on a whole new iteration if you have younger siblings. The way the 2008-2016 kids act and interact with each other and the world is completely new and quite innovative.

With complete access to the internet nowadays, kids have more access than ever, so much so that child safety programs are included on almost every device. Everything from screen time limits to blocking sites and an entirely new interface for kids accounts on your iPad, iPhone, Kindle and desktop computer. Even the internet is regulated by federal agencies like the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) which regulates sites and advertising with COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act). Despite all the restrictions, kids middle school to elementary school age are almost constantly involved in the world of the internet.

Take my sister, for example. She’s in sixth grade, and she comes home every day from school just to play on the computer for two hours, playing Minecraft, Roblox or other online multiplayer games with her friends from school.  She’s in constant communication through text apps like Discord, and she always plays with headphones, screaming at the screen as if she can’t hear how loud she’s being. In all honesty, she probably can’t hear anything through them thanks to noise canceling headphones, which is again the fault of technology.

This mass influx of computer gaming within the second half of what I think we’re calling Gen Z is heavily influenced by YouTube. Video gaming on YouTube has even earned its own niche within the YouTube algorithm. Popular YouTubers promote the games that I see my little sister and my younger cousins playing all the time now.

This is a stark contrast from the way that I played computer games growing up. With online games like Webkinz, Club Penguin and Poptropica, I played games in a much different way. I didn’t have a phone until the end of sixth grade, but neither did the majority of people in my middle school. While nowadays my sister can play up to two hours on the computer (courtesy of her computer addiction), I don’t remember such time limits. And even though Minecraft has been one of the most memorable games of the decade, it probably took me about six years after its release before I picked up the console or pocket edition.

I do appreciate how games have not lost their importance in the social developement of kid, and I’m glad that my sister can have fun as I once did. While I can find it annoying that my sister is yelling at the computer while I’m trying to study, I’m glad that we can still play games together and have fun at the end of the day.