Generation Z, those born in the mid-1990s to the early 2010s, have seen a lot of news coverage in recent years, and one of the main things dominating the headlines is their internet presence. As a generation, Gen Z has taken to the internet far more than any other generation before them, perhaps because they are the first generation to grow up alongside the internet.
According to a study by Adobe, Gen Z spends an average of 10.6 hours online every day, compared to Millennials (those born in the early 1980s to mid-1990s), who spend around 8 hours online every day. Both figures are surprisingly high, with Gen Z spending almost half their waking day engaging with online content! Interestingly, the same study also found that 54% of Gen Zs use two devices at once, effectively doubling the amount of time they spend online.
But what exactly do they spend their time doing online?
Socialising with friends + exploring the latest viral trends on social media
Unsurprisingly, one of the main things Gen Zs do online is use social media. In their lifetimes, social media has boomed, with various platforms coming to fruition. One of the newest, and most popular, is TikTok. The short-form video platform first launched outside of Mainland China in 2017 and quickly grew in popularity. In 2021, TikTok was named the most popular website by Cloudflare, even surpassing Google. By the end of that same year, Gen Z TikTok users overtook Gen Z Instagram users.
Gen Zs as a whole are prolific social media users, with a study from the National Retail Federation reporting that Gen Zs spend around 4.5 hours a day scrolling through social media. Typically, they prefer video content over static images or words, seeking organic, short-form videos which make TikTok and YouTube the perfect channels for them to use.
They use social media for all sorts of things, but one of the main ones is shopping. Barnes & Noble College found that 80% of Gen Zs follow and/or interact with brands through social media, and 72% of those who engage with brands online are somewhat/significantly more likely to buy a product.
Using the convenience and ease of mobile apps for online shopping
As Gen Zs are the most frequent generation to use the internet, brands are keen to understand how to engage with them. Gen Z has begun to enter the workforce, meaning they have access to money and therefore have more spending power. It is estimated that by 2066, Gen Z will be the major consumer group, but we can already see this in effect; one of the major things Gen Z does online is shop!
Yet this takes a much different form than Millennials. Most Gen Zs do their online shopping wholly within their social media apps instead of on Amazon or other dedicated shopping websites. The algorithms that drive social media can recommend products and brands directly to their users, meaning they don’t have to search for products they like. Instead, they are sent straight to them through recommendations. This has been a highly effective technique, with the TikTok hashtag #tiktokmademebuy having over 2.3 billion views, which showcases how effective the platform is for shopping.
Spending their downtime on online gaming + playing the latest titles
When bored, many search for new things to do on computers and this usually involves some form of entertainment. Many Gen Z may choose to listen to music on Spotify, watch new TV series, or play online games. Ever since Pac-man first arrived in arcades, gaming has always been popular with the younger generations. Modern gaming has changed a lot since then, with better graphics, more complex systems and online capabilities.
Gen Z has embraced online gaming with enthusiasm through online games and their smartphones. With many titles available to play now, there are plenty of gaming choices for Gen Z’s entertainment. According to data from the Drum, 87% of Gen Zs said they play online games on smartphones, gaming consoles or computers at least weekly. That same study also found that Gen Zs said gaming was their favourite online activity, compared to Millennials, who still lean towards TV and music streaming.
Gen Z is the first generation to grow up with the internet, and they have quickly become the major presence online. They spend more time in the digital space than any other generation, and their online habits include everything from shopping and communicating to social media and gaming.