Close your eyes and imagine a group of ten teenagers… Hard to keep reading with your eyes closed huh?
But in all seriousness, we suspect that heads down, phone in hand is central to the picture you painted in your mind.
And while this is very often the case, you’d be surprised to know that compared to Millennials, Gen Z’s relationship with tech is evolving. We don’t believe tech fatigue has set in but rather that there’s a couple of other things at play.
First, Gen Z are mature, critical thinkers who have learned from the mistakes of the Millennials and take this seriously. In fact, this generation takes everything seriously. We always say… they are old heads on young shoulders.
Second, they’re a generation who have shifted from seeing tech as novelty to tech as utility. They have never NOT known prolific wi-fi, memories in the cloud, online banking, ride-sharing apps, right-swiping and family Whatsapp groups. Tech is the only way they’ve known how to manage their day-to-day tasks, just as much as it’s how they connect and explore.
This mature and utilitarian filter means the things that matter might look a little different than what we’ve come to expect from youth and technology.
Here are 5 truths to keep in mind when thinking about Gen Z and tech.
5 key considerations when it comes to Gen Z and tech.
Privacy and Security Matter
Gen Z have seen the impact that oversharing can have on reputations, mental health and not to mention your future. Rather than blindly posting everything, they’re keeping their lives a little closer to the vest. They know their online and offline identities are one and the same and treat what they put out there with a greater level of discernment. Unlike Millennials who assumed data was safe, Gen Edgers will assume no one is protecting their information, but themselves.
The Rise of the Robots isn’t Scary, It’s Reality
Rather than being frightened of how AI and robotics might impact their future job prospects, Gen Z see these advancements as opening up new opportunities. In fact, according to a recent Gen Z study by Dell, 80% of Gen Z want to work with cutting edge technology. And 80% also believe automation and tech will make for a more equitable work environment because of more data-rich decisions being able to be made. Rather than imagining working against the robots, this generation is eager to work with the robots. Whether this comes in the form of research and development, cybersecurity or STEM, technology opens up an exciting array of job possibilities.
YouTube as an Education Platform
Yes, videos of unfathomable sports feats, slime, hauls and unboxings still get a fair share of views. But YouTube is becoming a platform for self-directed education as much as it is for entertainment. According to Think With Google, 68% of Gen Z say YouTube has helped them improve or gain skills that will help them prepare for the future. If there is one thing we know about this generation it’s that they highly value self-reliance, and technology makes it possible to firmly take the reins of their education and self-improvement. And yes, sometimes that education might be how to make the best slime.
eComm in IRL
While the transactional exchange between retailer and shopper is still happening online, Gen Z very much enjoy the experience of being in-store. It’s an opportunity to assess quality for themselves (and quality matters to them big time!) and enjoy a unique experience that deepens their connection to a brand. Because of this, we see digitally native brands like Glossier and Warby Parker opening pop-ups or small format brick and mortar to invite touch, feel, try-on and… getting a break from being online.
TikTok the Empathy Tool
It’s virtually impossible to talk about Gen Z and their relationship to technology and not mention TikTok. It’s weird and wonderful. But it’s also creative, inclusive and mostly still a very positive place to be. Three things that really matter to them. In recent work we did, we learned the global nature of the platform affords them the chance to both see and understand other people and cultures. What might surprise people is not that teens are goofing off on TikTok… but that Tiktok is a place they turn to because it’s an example of the global empathy that underpins their values.
If you’re a brand looking for how to apply these insights to your business, here are three thought starters:
1 – Be upfront about why you need any user data.
There must be a logical exchange that benefits Gen Z if you’re trying to gather their data. Consider building in options for increased privacy.
2 – Use technological advances to teach new skills.
Share new perspectives, skills, or expose Gen Z to new ideas; they appreciate adding to their personal repertoire of self-sufficiency and education.
3 – Remember even the most adaptive, tech-immersed need a break sometimes.
Think about how can you create opportunities to shut off the noise and help them unplug… even if it means they’re still plugged in while doing it.
Want to learn more about Gen Z?
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