Week 12 - Everything I Needed to Know About Gen Z and Technology Usage
As someone who was born in 1996, I find myself in this awkward position of being on the edge of both the Millennial and Generation Z cohorts, depending on who you ask. Growing up, I never used the internet even though it was publicly available and have always been comfortable using technology.
Either way, many Generation Z members are considered to have been born in the mid 90's and early 2000's and grew up with the internet. This generation is very comfortable with technology, specifically social media, to the point of being called digital natives.
In this week's post, we'll take a look at Generation Z and their interactions with technology, and how they are disrupting the norms set by earlier generations.
Table of Contents
- Day 1 - 8 Key Differences between Gen Z and Millennials
- Day 2 - How Generation Z is changing the tech world
- Day 3 - Meet Generation Z, the 'millennials on steroids' who could lead the charge for change in the US
- Day 4 - Gen Z Technology Usage and Trends Infographic
- Day 5 - What Technology Drives Generation Z?
- Day 6 - Gen Z Media Consumption: It's A Lifestyle, Not Just Entertainment
- TL; DR
While this article has no data to back up its claims, it's not too hard to conclude how they came up with them. While that's a pretty big factor in this post's authority, at least the claims are believable. Knowing this, take it as you will.
Gen Z is less focused
With the power of the internet at their fingertips, Gen Z's are used to having up-to-date and useful information at all times. This constant news feed into their brains allows them to have short attention spans since this data is constantly passing through them and doesn't require in-depth reading or review.
Gen Z breathes multitasking
When you grow up with the internet and technology that your grandparents only saw in science fiction movies, you get used to working with multiple devices. Most Gen Z's I know all have their own iPad, plus a smart TV, laptop, and smartphone. The daily usage of all these devices, usually at the same time, allows Gen Z's to thrive in a multitasking environment.
Geb Z care less about prices
Gen Z's care less about finding a deal than Millennials do. According to this article, 76% of Millennials will look for a coupon before buying something, versus 46% of Gen Z's. This also translates into digital ads, where 71% of Millennials purchase a product through an ad, versus 59% of Gen Z's.
Gen Z cares less about traditional higher education
With new online learning platforms coming out every day, the cost of a traditional higher education degree looks less and less worthwhile. Many of these online platforms provide quality courses that could match (or surpass) many traditional university class and save them a lot more money. I can definitely think of multiple classes I took at George Mason where I was astounded that I was paying thousands of dollars to take, and could have gotten a better course through Lynda or Codecademy.
Gen Z thrives on the Entrepreneurial spirit
Due to the usage of advanced technology and ability to network across the world, Gen Z's have developed a strong entrepreneurial spirit, with 72% of teenagers wanting to start a business one day.
Gen Z has high expectations
Gen Z expects businesses and brands to be loyal to them, the customer. If that business is not customer-centric, Gen Z's have no issue going somewhere else to get what they need.
Gen Z's crave individuality
They want to make their style their own, their diet their own, and their path of the life their own.
Gen Z goes global
Because of the internet, Gen Z's are able to share ideas, passions, and resources across the globe in an almost natural way. Many Gen Z's find unity with people across the world, sometimes more so than their own country.
Gen Z's also pose an interesting challenge to traditional marketing tactics that relied on in-person selling, direct mail, and email. Gen Z disrupts those channels drastically, and marketing tactics need to change with them.
According to the Center of Generational Kinetics, a research firm based in Austin Texas, Generation Z is a native to social media, though a more personal form of it. Gen Z tends to steer clear of platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and instead narrows in on more direct social media, like SnapChat.
As each generation tends to adopt some form of communication as their preferred, like Baby Boomers speaking face-to-face, Gen X on the phone/email, and Millennials on social media, Gen Z favors modes of communication where the actual messages disappear into the ether. These forms of communication lie mainly in Snapchat and Instagram, where everything you send has a lifespan of 24 hours or less.
According to the Center of Generation Kinetics:
Gen Z is four times more likely to say that 13 is a good age to get a smartphone
Gen Z's are more likely to view smartphones in social settings as acceptable
Gen Z cares less about online privacy and payment processing and is more willing to use apps like Venmo
These characteristics are important to understand because when you have a Gen Z and a baby boomer working together at a company, modes of communication are going to drastically differ, and compromises must be made in order to make communication efficient and effective.
42% of Gen Z says that "social media has a direct impact on how they feel about themselves."
You could take that statistic multiple ways. Either, you could see it as a sign that social media has too much control over Gen Z's lives, or you could see it as just another way humans navigate social comparisons and is a very natural component of our lives.
As many of us know, however, social media and other forums give cyber-bullies an absolute playground to work in. While this hasn't stopped people from using social media or online forums, it definitely goes to show that there is a dark side to all this and that there are many toxic communities out there looking for opportunities.
One interesting notion put forward that while Gen Z is more connected with the world and their peers across it, that doesn't mean they are equally as informed. Gen Z tends to read many of the headlines of various news stories and snippets, and can easily fall into a rabbit hole of misinformation.
Gen Z lives in a culture where celebrity fame can be achieved through some form of creativity coming to life as a Vine or a YouTube video. They are constantly creating content and uploading videos to these platforms (though Vine no longer exists). Gen Z has essentially broken down the traditional wall that prevented people from becoming influencers.
Gen Z spends their time developing creative skills, like Photoshop and video editing, pushing forward their creative culture and entrepreneurial spirit.
Millennials are so last week. Let's look at Generation Z instead. One way to describe Generation Z is that they are like Millennials, but on steroids. Gen Z tends to share many of the same characteristics as Millennials, but just more ardently.
According to a study called Generation Nation, there is a lack of patriotism in Gen Z. This speaks volumes to how supportive Gen Z will be towards the government, and craves a system that supports inclusivity. Or take the military for example. Traditional recruiting tactics just won't work due to the change in pro-American mindsets.
Growing up with the internet really left its mark on this generation. Gen Z doesn't watch live tv or broadcast news, and natively browses online streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube. This shift in content consumption could make Gen Z more susceptible to fake news, as there is very little quality assurance applied to these pieces of content.
While Millennials popularized social media, Gen Z is being more careful about it. They know that social media is a powerful tool, and can come back to haunt them later. We see this in the news all the time with politicians that tweeted something at one point or another. Hence, Gen Z favors a more ghost-like platform that deletes what they say after a short grace period.
Generation Z is the most diverse generation. Just to show some quick stats:
81% of Gen Z's say they have one or more friends of a different race
48% of Gen Z is non-Caucasian
59% have friends of different sexual orientations
Gen Z stands out in two areas when it comes to equality: race and marriage. While this generation is still quite young and probably doesn't think about marriage that often, they at least know that they are in favor of marrying someone of a different race (77% in favor). On other issues like health care, social security, and the environment, Gen Z floated around similar numbers to the other generations.
The youngest sibling
For all those older siblings out there who look back and realize that they were punished all the time, but by the 3rd sibling, the parents let them get away with anything, Gen Z is that 3rd sibling. 48% of Gen Z's would agree that their parents would actually follow through with a punishment, as compared to 59% of Millennials and 67% of Gen X.
Gen Z's resemble Millennials in many ways, just not when it comes to the bright future of America.
68% think the US is taking a bad turn
44% were worried about how things were going in America
And 21% said they were scared
71% say that they believe their lives will get harder in the future
If you're 20 or below, you're a Gen Z. You've grown up with the internet, have the knowledge of the world and thousands of years at your fingertips, and eat tide pods for laughs.
You are four times more likely to say that 13 is a good age to get a smartphone, with all the other generations saying 18 instead.
When it comes to work, you are 50% less likely to use your phone, but when it comes to your job interview, you'll just text away while trying to figure out how many basketballs would fit in that room.
You're the least concerned generation when it comes to payment apps like Venmo or Square Cash, and 63% of you have concerns over online payments with your Credit/Debit cards.
A strong majority of your generation (85% to be exact), trusts shared service companies like Uber or Lyft, and rely heavily on background checks to validate that trust. Those background checks are considered to be the best way to earn that trust, at least for 63% of you all, which is higher than any other generation.
Gen Z's platform of choice tends to be YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram. This is a shift from the Facebook atmosphere and into the straight video consumption and ephemeral messaging.
Let's take a look at all these stats (sample ages are 13 to 20):
95% use YouTube, and 50% say they can't live without it
69% use Instagram
67% use Facebook
67% also use Snapchat
66% go to YouTube to find how-to info
51% go to YouTube to have a laugh
35% use Snapchat to stay connected with their friends
23% use Facebook/YouTube to stay in-the-know
The oldest of the Gen Z cohort, around age 20, is gaining purchasing power. They're obviously different from Millennials but in what ways?
These digital natives have grown up with smartphones, and use them to stay connected for 10 hours a day. Most of their entertainment comes from platforms like YouTube or Netflix, with only 29% watching TV.
This generation looks to social media influencers on YouTube and other platforms to find relevant and relatable content. Platforms like Netflix and FullScreen are taking this influencer power and leveraging them into their own original series and movies.
These influencers are built by their fans, and understandably have deep relationships with them. This idea of being audience-centric is what will build engagement and loyalty among Gen Z's. Companies that use that as a pillar of their content will start off on the right foot when marketing to Generation Z.
Generation Z changes depending on who you ask. From what I can tell, the age range is between 2 and 21. Most members of this generation grew up with the internet and never knew a time without it. They consume content at all times of the day on their smartphone, love YouTube and Snapchat, and rely on social media influencers for useful and fun content.
This generation has no problem overthrowing brands and corporations, and starts movements using their knowledge of the internet and harnessing the power of the internet to advance their causes.