Will technology play a role in population collapse?
The UK birth rate is currently just 1.56. For the first time ever, over 50% of women aged 30 do not have kids. We're having fewer children, and they're going to have even fewer children.
Gen Z/Zoomers - those aged 6-24 - is our smallest generation ever. Depending on which reports you read, we have about 20-30% fewer Zoomers than we had Millennials at the same age. This is partly because their parents, Gen X, were also a small generation.
Zoomers are the first generation to be raised in the era of digitization. In other words, they grew up with an iPad. In the past decade, kids have spent increasingly more time online, and less time socialising.
A more socially awkward generation will presumably go on fewer dates, have fewer partners and therefore fewer children. The data suggests that this is what is happening.
These days, most relationships are formed via dating apps, which have a lower success rate than alternative methods like being introduced by a mutual friend.
High rates of social media usage are correlated with increased feelings of loneliness. Most kids keep up with their friends over Snapchat; spending more time with their phones than their peers. It's no surprise then that loneliness scores are at an all-time high.
Constant checking of feeds, being unable to disconnect from work, and notifications about all the terrible things going on in the world might be why Gen Z is labelled the most anxious and stressed generation ever.
Gen Z spends an average of 9 - 11 hours consuming online content every day. The online world seemingly meets our every need, albeit on a shallow level. When boredom is no longer an option, going outside can feel like a waste of time, and forming in-person social connections can feel like an unnecessary stress.
One UK report revealed that 46% of Gen Z do not plan on having kids. Add to that all the people that do plan on having kids but won't (80% of women who didn't have kids, didn't intend to not have kids); fertility rates are dropping; more women are pursuing careers over motherhood; the fact that these stats are trending up, and we could have a real problem.
Population decline is a significant and looming prospect, with potentially severe social and economic consequences. Who will work, pay taxes, and look after this generation when they're old?
Technology is just one of many contributing factors. It's too complex of an issue to determine exactly to what extent technology is/will be to blame, but it's incredibly interesting to think about. How big a factor do you think it is?
This generation will ultimately determine how we integrate all our current and new technologies into our culture. Hopefully, they can do this whilst raising families.
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