Millennials and Gen Z are often criticized for being obsessed with their phones—hello Bette Midler—but instead of piling on, it might be more productive to understand how these generations use tech. After all, the apps displayed across our home screens aren’t just a way to waste time—they’re helping us passively build usable skills, including coding, editing, storytelling, and even acting. We’re long past the heyday of learning to code on Myspace and blogging platforms, but trending apps like Instagram and TikTok allow children, teens, and adults continue that tradition. These gifts help leverage the hours spent on phone apps and social media into tangible skills we can all use—and make it clear that you understand what’s cool and currently trending across social media.
Creating videos is a huge part of using social media in 2019. Visual-driven platforms like Instagram are no longer driven by quick, unedited selfies or photos of artful lattes. Succeeding on those platforms now requires developing an aesthetic that feels true to you, whether you’re an entrepreneur building a customer base for a producer or you’re curating fun content for your close friends. While some social-media platforms have built-in photo- and video-editing software, users can take their content a step further with outside tech. The Adobe Creative Cloud includes Photoshop, Illustrator, and other design tools that expand and enhance our editing skills. InDesign and other Adobe tools can also encourage phone-obsessed teens to spend more time new spaces that are equally as techy.
The App Store has really come a long way from its humble beginnings; there’s really an app for everything, including listening to music, browsing or creating art, and organizing a digital portfolio. These apps are often more affordable than Photoshop and other photo-editing software, so purchasing a gift card children can use in the App Store is a good way to see what kinds of software your resident tech kiddo is most interested in.
Have you noticed your kid is hanging out with a lot of other kids who wear scrunchies? That’s no coincidence; scrunchies are the ultimate VSCO girl accessory. They’re also a fun and practical gift that come in a wide variety of colors—bold and bright as well as soft and muted colors—that could match the aesthetic of your VSCO child or E-Girl or E-Boy. Pansy’s scrunchies are made from organic cotton scrap fabric and natural rubber elastic, so they’re also environmentally friendly—a real gift that keeps on giving.
No matter the generation, there’s one trend that never dies: a group of young people who are nostalgic about a time before their own and crave something that reminds them of that bygone era. Enter record players, a coveted item that feed this nostalgia, especially for the teens among us who want to spend less time on their phones. You don’t have to be transported to the ’70s to enjoy record players now: Many modern record players have bluetooth, so your teen can play their favorite songs without having to purchase vinyl versions of their go-to albums.
Vintage band tees are also on the rise—the more oversized, the better. As always, teens are turning to their parents’ closets in hope of landing the perfect vintage find, but if you’ve already replaced your faded high-school tees, Etsy and thrift stores have you covered. Some teens are more interested in the look of the tee than the band itself, while others are the opposite, so you might need to snoop on some Spotify playlists to better understand their music tastes.
When Apple first released Airpods, many of us mocked the odd design: really, headphones with the wires chopped off? Fast forward, however, and many of us are wearing them daily. In some ways, Airpods are a show of wealth, but they’re are truly practical. The phone-obsessed will appreciate the ability to hop from TikTok to Instagram Stories to a call to grandma while walking home from school or cleaning their room. They’re a must for the multitasking tech-lover.
For Gen Z, advocating for change ranges from creating a TikTok about the class divide to donning a hat with their favorite nonprofit’s logo to attending a protest. Some of the issues they care about include reproductive justice, police brutality, LGBTQ rights, and, of course, climate change. Help support the cause they champion with a donation.