Brands

Gen Z Is Extremely Online

More than half of Gen Zers spend four or more hours on social media every single day, per a new Morning Consult survey

Nearly 7 in 10 Gen Zers (68%) said they use TikTok, up 21 percentage points from a 2020 survey, according to Morning Consult data. (Unsplash, Getty Images / Morning Consult artwork by Chloe Phan)

Gen Zers are no longer a mere fascination: They now wield serious purchasing power and cultural capital as they put their imprints on the global economy. Morning Consult surveyed Americans between the ages of 13 and 25 about their media tastes and habits, relationships with brands and interest in sports in order to better understand where, exactly, the youngest adult generation is now taking us.

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Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z is the first generation that’s totally digitally native. Four out of five of their favorite brands are technology companies. They’re abandoning traditional corporate jobs in favor of content creation, and they’ve even devised a new vocabulary inspired by algorithmic guidelines. 

A new Morning Consult survey of Americans between the ages of 13 and 25 highlights the extent to which young people use one facet of the internet in particular: social media. 

Fifty-four percent of Gen Zers said they spend at least four hours daily on social media, and almost 2 in 5 (38%) spend even more time than that. Nearly 9 in 10 (88%) said they use Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube, making it the generation’s most-used social platform by a wide margin. Meta Platform Inc.’s Instagram ranked second, used by roughly three-fourths (76%) of Gen Zers.

More Than Half of Gen Zers Spend Four or More Hours per Day on Social Media

Respondents were asked how many hours they spend on social media per day, as well as how much time they spend interacting with other people via the following activities per week:

Survey conducted Nov. 2-8, 2022, among a representative sample of 1,000 U.S. Gen Zers between the ages of 13 and 25, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-3 percentage points. A separate survey was conducted Nov. 2-4, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,210 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Mobile devices dominate Gen Z social interactions

  • Gen Zers reported using social media for four or more hours a day (54%) at a rate almost double that of all U.S. adults (28%). 
  • Meanwhile, 1 in 5 U.S. adults indicated they use social media for less than 1 hour per day, five times more than the share of Gen Z respondents who said the same (4%). 
  • Nearly all members of Gen Z (94%) said they interact with peers through text messages each week. Phone calls (89%) and social media (88%) followed closely behind as the next most frequently used methods of socializing. 
  • Gen Zers said they spend more time interacting with their peers per week, on average, via video games (65%) than at school (64%) or work (51%).
YouTube Stands Out as Gen Z’s Most-Used Platform

The shares of Gen Zers between the ages of 13 and 25 who said they use the following social media platforms:

Survey conducted Nov. 2-8, 2022, among a representative sample of 1,000 U.S. Gen Zers between the ages of 13 and 25, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-3 percentage points.

Instagram sits firmly in second, while TikTok and Snapchat tie for third

  • YouTube is used by 88% of Gen Zers, significantly more than any other platform. The video-sharing app topped Morning Consult’s report of Gen Z’s Favorite Brands of 2022
  • Instagram (76%), TikTok (68%) and Snapchat (67%) are all used by at least two-thirds of Gen Z respondents, followed by Facebook (49%) and Twitter (47%). TikTok’s usage by Gen Zers is up 21 percentage points from a 2020 Morning Consult survey.  
  • There was a significant gap in the reported usage of every tested platform between male and female Gen Zers, with the former being more likely to use text-based apps (Discord, Twitter, Reddit) and the latter reporting greater usage of photo-centric ones (Instagram, Snapchat, BeReal). 
  • At least half of Gen Zers said they “shared something positive about a brand” on six out of 10 tested platforms within the past year, indicating that the use of social media to discuss experiences with companies is widespread among the cohort.

Even more online? 

While Gen Z didn’t have a choice in being thrust into a digital world, they’ve proactively embraced many aspects of internet culture — including online gaming and advanced technologies like the metaverse — at much higher rates than older generations. 

Brands across every sector are taking note.  

YouTube and ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok both celebrated the outsized role that gamers have played in their respective communities through global live-streaming events earlier this year. Nike Inc. recently launched “.Swoosh,” its first virtual sneaker trading platform. And even luxury retailers are getting into the Gen Z way of life: Many continue to announce partnerships with younger-skewing gaming platforms like Roblox and Fortnite, where activations range from designing in-app clothing lines to organizing meet-and-greets with digital avatars of their celebrity brand ambassadors. 

As more Gen Zers age into adulthood, marketers will follow the coveted consumer bloc wherever they go next which will likely be even more online than they already are. 

The Nov. 2-8, 2022, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 1,000 U.S. Gen Zers between the ages of 13 and 25, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. A separate Nov. 2-4, 2022, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,210 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.