I am Gen Z – Movie Screening & Community Panel Discussion with Filmmaker Liz Smith

In November, we co-hosted an exclusive screening of I am Gen Z, a documentary about the impact of digital technology on young people. The event was co-organized with The Middle Road and sponsored by Swisscom. We were fortunate to also have the filmmaker herself, Liz Smith, present at the event which has led to an insightful and engaged community panel discussion.

In this article, we have put together the key takeaways from the movie and the community panel discussion.

Key themes from the movie

⭐ The importance of sleep for the development of an adolescent’s brain (9+ hours)

⭐ The change of expectations around social relationships (“tinderization”)

⭐ The rise of perfectionism, anxiety and depression – especially in young women between 16-24 years old

⭐ Social cooling (if you feel you are being watched, you change your behavior) and how Gen Z tends to be more risk averse

⭐ The normalization of self-harm, eating disorders, and even suicidal tendencies through exposure

⭐ Self-branding and the widening gap between the real person and the online persona which is created for social media

⭐ An increase of empathy and posivite dialog through digital communities

⭐ Gen Z is a generation of purpose-driven and self-aware people that aren’t afraid to  fight for a better world

Graphical recording by Anna-Lena Koenig

I don’t think technologists have bad intentions, but they’re trapped by a business model that makes ethical design really challenging.

– Liz Smith

Key themes from the community discussion

⭐ Many of the problems we are seeing in Gen Z are not because of technology, but technology is an amplifier.

⭐ Social problems cannot be solved with technology – and fixing the “broken tech” will not solve the problems.

⭐ Resilience is a key skill that needs to be taught early so young people can develop healthy coping mechanisms.

⭐ Laws and regulations vs. self-regulation and code of conducts. The first is too slow, and the later is too ineffective.

⭐ Ownership and literacy around digital technologies for Gen Z, but also their parents and educators, has great potential.

Graphical recording by Anna-Lena Koenig

Impressions from the event

What’s next?

More events around the topics of Gen Z and the safe use of digital technologies are planned at The Middle Road. Follow them & sign up for their newsletter to stay up to date.

I am Gen Z is now also available for school communities in Switzerland. Great news for educators & parents as the movie has been recently translated into German, French & Italian and can now be viewed for free by public school communities across Switzerland.

The Middle Road has already organized screenings to build awareness in Basel for parents, educators, and students, all with great success. Anyone in a school community (e.g., parents, teachers, and administrators) who are interested in learning more about hosting a screening can contact them at [email protected].

You can stay in touch with Liz Smith and the I am Gen Z team by  signing up to their newsletter.

At Girls in Tech Switzerland, we are planning to bring a screening of I am Gen Z to Geneva and/or Lausanne early next year. Join our newsletter to not miss this opportunity to watch I am Gen Z and discuss about this important topic.

We’d like to thank Liz Lian & Felix Hollenstein from The Middle Road for creating a co-learning space where we could have an honest and open discussion about this frankly quite unsettling topic. Huge thanks to Liz Smith for creating such an amazing movie. And thank you to Michael in Albon for sponsoring this event and sharing your insights as deputy of child media protection at Swisscom. And also a big thank to Anna-Lena Koenig for the graphical recordings & creating such a beautiful and memorable artifact from this event.

Also big shout-out to Julia and Anne-Sophie from the Girls in Tech Switzerland team for supporting this event!

Author: Lisa Stähli

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