Some of the most interesting insights from the research are around socialising and friendship: Gen Z are together even when they aren’t. Hanging out with friends and family begins when they wake up and ends when they go to bed, but this socialising primarily takes place through their ever-present smartphones. For most 16-24 year olds, social life starts and ends with their phones. Almost 99% of them in all markets own a mobile phone and use it daily—phones are the heart of everything that they do and largely considered extensions of themselves.
Around half of Gen Z across markets think that they are more social than previous generations and in some ways this is true, they’re constantly connected to their social circles which means they spend more hours socialising than generations before them. But their near constant connection with friends and family looks very different than a teenager’s might have 30 years ago: they use technology and apps to facilitate social needs and interactions, counting time spent digitally with friends nearly as important as face-to-face. In our research, an in person activity, going out to eat, ranked as the most popular social activity in our research, but a digital one, gaming, came second.
Consuming TV or VoD content is also a social moment, but it’s not a time of physical connection. Around half of Gen Z co-watch content together while in different spaces and almost 90% double screen at least some of the time, which means they use their phones or other devices to stay connected while they watch TV.
When they’re doing all this socialising, Gen Z tend to prefer text-based methods of communication like DMs, texts, and Snapchat, over face-to-face interaction like video calls. They’re also big into sharing content; it allows them to stay connected whilst sharing their personality and taste with their friends and followers. This makes sense given that the majority of Gen Z’s have friends that they’ve met online that they have never met in person.
So while physical engagement is still considered the best way to connect with friends and family, digital connection is now a VERY close second. It’s how the majority of connections happen and how Gen Z spend most of their time.