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This is What Millennials & Gen Z Are Doing on Their Phones the MOST

What does a day in the life of a Millennial/Gen Z smartphone look like—and what are they doing on their phones the most every day? We checked in with 1000 13-34-year-olds to find out…

Whether you think that smartphones are destroying the next generation, or believe that the devices we’re all hooked on have as many positive effects as negative, good luck prying their phones out of their hands now. When we asked Millennials and Gen Z what tech item they would buy next if they could buy anything, a new smartphone beat out everything else. They have moved from luxury to indispensable in the eyes of these generations. In fact, 64% of 13-34-year-olds told us that their smartphone is the one device they own that they can’t live without—laptop came in second with a vastly lower 13%.  

Half of 13-34-year-olds tell us that they spend 1-4 hours a day on their phones—and almost three in ten admit to spending 5-8 hours on it. It’s no wonder that brands are hungry to find new ways to break into mobile, and we’re always digging to find out what exactly young consumers are doing on the devices they love. Earlier this year, we used behavioral tracking to get a glimpse inside Millennials and Gen Z’s mobile social world, but we also asked 1000 13-34-year-olds to tell us how often they use their phones for a range of activities. Today, we’re showing exactly what they’re doing the most.

We’ll start with an overview of 13-34-year-olds’ daily use: 

As we saw in 2016, messaging is the top activity that Millennials and Gen Z are using their phones for daily, followed by social networking, and listening to music. Between messaging and social media, these generations are never separated from their friends and family, and in our recent mobile/app behavior survey, 78% told us that they are always connected to their friends because of their phones. From our Social Media Mobile Deep Dive Special Report we know that almost half of young consumers’ time on their phones is spent on social apps and sites.

Over half of young consumers are watching videos on their phones daily, and over a quarter say that they watch movies/TV programming on their phones daily. It’s no surprise then that Netflix is growing fastest on smartphones, as the Post-TV Gen welcomes mobile viewing. Since 2014, the amount of time Americans spent watching Netflix on their phones has skyrocketed 73%, to 7.5 billion total minutes. In that same time, all other digital viewership has increased only 48%. The Netflix app on Google Play and iOS was the highest grossing of all apps, meaning people aren’t just streaming via smartphone but also buying subscriptions there. 

Looking at the daily smartphone activities of Gen Z versus Millennials, we can see that mobile video behavior is even more pronounced among younger consumers:

Gen Z is more likely to watch videos on their phone daily, and to watch movies/TV content on their phone daily than Millennials. For Gen Z, a phone is an entertainment hub. They’re more likely to use it to listen to music, and to play games—and their top motivation for downloading an app is that it’s fun. Millennials, on the other hand, use their phones as a mix of entertainment and utility. They’re more likely than Gen Z to check the news, fact check, get directions, price compare, and to shop on their devices. 

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.