Thursday, February 25, 2021

Lee on the Internet’s Impact on Middle America Teens

Headshot of Dr. Richard Lee
For some, growing up in middle America away from cultural hubs of the East and West coasts can feel very disconnecting. However, in recent years the internet has provided a platform for immediate access to information and similar individuals. A Vice article titled “How the Internet Is Saving Gen Z in Flyover Country,” explains that particularly for immigrant and minority youth, social media has allowed them to celebrate their heritage and meet others with shared backgrounds. While the internet can certainly have negative effects as it can create a space for hate speech and radical group think, the positives seem to outweigh these concerns.

Dr. Richard Lee, PhD, Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Minnesota, explains that Gen Z has a strong desire for cultural and racial connection. In this virtual world, those who are disconnected from their homelands can maintain these attachments through “coethnic solidarity.” Young people of color have much less desire to assimilate to whiteness because of the easily accessible diversity available through social media on the Internet.

Composed by Flora Pollack, communications assistant.