Generation Z’s penchant for all things digital has been well documented, but details surrounding how this cohort affects family decisions—and how these two- to 22-year-olds actually divy up their media choices—are still a bit murky. But a recent study from The US National Retail Foundation and IBM, the first part of one of the largest studies on Gen Z ever commissioned, sheds new light on the daily lives of today’s kids.
Among the 15,600 kids surveyed across six continents, 74% say they prefer to spend their free time online. The next closest option is watching TV and movies at 44%, followed by hanging out with friends and spending time with family (also at 44%).
As for what devices they use, it should come as no surprise that 75% of Gen Zers say they most frequently use smartphones, followed by 45% who say laptops and 30% who use a desktop. (Similar results about the dependency on smartphones were found in a recent study by Childwise, which found that it was the dominant multimedia gadget for five- to 16-year-olds in the UK.)
When using these devices, kids spend 73% of their time texting and chatting, followed by accessing entertainment (59%) and playing games (58%). But in terms of sharing personal information online, this generation is a mixed bag: 42% are willing to share their contact details with a brand, however, 61% say they often secure storage and protect personal data.
Another revelation is that kids have a major impact on how their families spend money—or at least they think they do. A full 61% of respondents say they have a significant influence on what electronic goods their parents buy, but only 37% believe they have a significant influence over digital streaming choices. Even fewer kids thought they had an affect on toys and games (30%), and bringing up the rear were app purchases (20%).
Kids also have their own money to spend. More than half (59%) say they receive an allowance, and 22% say they make money online. And when it comes to spending that hard-earned cash, a whopping 98% say they make purchases in a brick-and-mortar store most or all of the time.
NRF and IBM are among several brands trying to understand and harness the spending power of the young generation. Nickelodeon released a study last year showing Gen Z to be the most compassionate cohort yet, with 93% of kids saying they would like to have a friend from a different friend group. AwesomenessTV’s Wildness also recently looked at the generation, and discovered a world of kids who never had a cable subscription.