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Is Gen Z Fearful of the Increasingly Digital Age?

The age of digitization has been spurred as Gen Zer's are moving into teenhood. A study into Gen Z to gather and socialize data on the opinions, attitudes, and habits of the "Digital Natives" found some surprising results.

Editor’s Note: While the practice has been ubiquitous for quite some time now, I’ve always grated a bit against the labels give to generations.  Be it Baby Boomers, Gen X,Y, Z, Q or any other letter someone decides to use, it has encouraged a lot of simplistic and sloppy thinking that overlooks the diversity of lives summarized by a label. Here, Emily Coughlin shows that a substantial percentage of Gen Z doesn’t embrace stereotypical views of technology. Importantly too, her post demonstrates that there is a lot of information “out there” that could be used to address key marketing issues. In a time of highly scrutinized research expenditures, there are cost-efficient (even free) resources that more insights professionals should be using more.

It’s not breaking news that Gen Z is fluent in technology. Much to our surprise, though, these so-called “Digital Natives” are very uncomfortable with certain advancements in technology. In fact, when compared to Millennials on topics like self-flying planes and gene editing, Gen Z tended to align more closely with Baby Boomers’ responses. Begging the question in our minds – is Gen Z fearful of the increasingly digital age?‍

Robots? No Thanks.

Based on results from TruePublic’s data, Gen Z is not game for a future run by robots. According to Pew Research Center’s “Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015, Ages 13-17,” about a quarter of Gen Zers are online “all the time.” They send and receive over 67 texts every day (this figure is for SMS texts and does not include other IM services, such as Snapchat or Facebook Messenger). Regardless of the fact that technology is second nature to them, though, they still are less inclined to be accepting of some more cutting-edge technologies than Millennials are.

When polled, “What is your general feeling towards robots being used to help raise children?” Millennials and Gen Z were in agreement overall. However, Gen Z’s positive response came in at a 20% which was significantly lower compared to Millennials’ positive response rate of 35.7%. In fact, the most closely aligned generation with Gen Z was the Baby Boomers. And this isn’t the only example of Gen Z expressing more concern towards a robot takeover than Millennials.

Again, when asked, “What better describes how you feel about self-driving cars?,” 54% of Millennials responded they are excited about self-driving cars compared to only 39.7% of Gen Zers. Similar to the Baby Boomer response, the majority of the youngest generation is worried about self-driving cars.

As for self-flying planes – don’t even think about it. 69.4% of Gen Z responded that they are worried/terrified, coming in as much less comfortable with the idea than Millennials who responded more favorably, with only 55% being worried/terrified and 45% being excited.

Thoughts Towards Gene Editing

While gene editing and posting to Instagram don’t exactly go hand in hand, both do have one thing in common – your grandparents are confused by them. As the younger, most advanced generation, one might make the assumption that Gen Z is more comfortable with the idea of gene editing, growing up closer to its potential reality.

The numbers don’t lie, though- Gen Z is significantly more cautious feeling towards gene editing than their older (but equally as cool IMHO 💁) counterparts sitting in Camp Millennial. When asked, “What is your general feeling about the future potential of gene editing?,” 50% of Gen Zers surveyed responded that they are cautious/terrified towards the matter. In comparison to Millennials, Gen Z shows more distaste for the science. The highest response rate to excited/curious came from Millennials at 57%

There’s Much More Where That Came From

As a free resource for data lovers, KH Insights has hundreds of survey questions on Gen Z in various study categories like Relationships, Money & Work, and Lifestyle. There is also omnibus studies from Pew ResearchCollaborata’s Generation NationAmerica’s Reaction to the 2020 Democratic Debate, and more currently available to you in the KH Insights platform. Register for access to dive in and explore for yourself. Fresh data sets will be added to KH Insights monthly, so keep an eye on the site for new study uploads!

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Emily Coughlin

Emily Coughlin

Senior Marketing Manager, KnowledgeHound