Defined by digital: 4 ways tech makes Gen Z different
Every generation is influenced by the era in which it comes of age. But for Gen Z, one factor above all defines them: digital technology. But how does digital technology make their experiences and outlook unique?
Information via social media:
For Gen Z, social media isn’t just a place to hang out, it’s a key information source. A survey of 12-15 year-olds published by Ofcom last year found that more than half used social media as a source of news, putting it in second place after TV.
The role of social media in “democratising” information has been much lauded, but it also stands accused of feeding users a filtered view of reality, reinforcing prejudices, and promoting fake news.
Nevertheless, social media is still set to exert more influence on Gen Z’s behaviour and decisions, from what they buy, where they study and even where they send the next generation of kids to school.
The image of a group of young people sitting together, engrossed in their phones, has become a hallmark of modern life. Gen Z, like Gen Y before them, can’t get enough of their digital devices. Children aged 12-15 spend 18 hours a week using mobile phones, according to Ofcom. But compared to previous generations, Gen Z have a better understanding of how technology affects them. This makes them better equipped to deal with the consequences of over-use. What that may be is yet to be seen.
The internet of things:
It’s no longer just laptops and phones that can connect online. By 2020 it’s predicted that there will be 50 billion “things” connected to the internet. Toothbrushes, thermostats, cars and fridges – you name it and it will get online. This means that almost everything Gen Z use will be automated, controllable and trackable.
One consequence of this is that people leave a constant data trail behind them as they go about their lives. All this data will make understanding and modelling human behaviour less of an art and more of a science.
If data is being used to understand Gen Z, it will be up to them to ensure that this knowledge is used to their benefit and not to their detriment.
Wearable technology will have a profound influence on the lives of Gen Z. It allows them to monitor and analyse all aspects of their lives meaning no stone is left unturned or untreated. Wrist-worn health monitors such as fitbits encourage us to exercise more and by keeping track of our movements, can help to promote better sleep.
Just as the IoT blurs the line between the online and offline worlds, wearable tech blurs the line between technology and ourselves.
What the future holds?
Digital already defines Gen Z but if you think this generation has been heavily influenced by tech, you ain’t seen nothing yet. While Gen Z may be better prepared than previous generations to deal with the risks of digital, technology continues to move forward at a blistering rate. However, whilst tech will present them with unprecedented challenges, it will also open up unprecedented opportunities, something all brands can get on board with.