Yes, they admit they’re addicted to their devices—but Millennials and Gen Z aren’t living their entire lives glued to screens. Here are the top 16 activities they tell us they do for fun when they’re not on their phones…
Young consumers have a rep for being glued to electronic devices—and there’s good reason. Over half of Gen Z and Millennials tell us that they’re addicted to their phones, over four in five say they always have their phone within reach, and seven in ten say they spend the majority of their day looking at a screen. So, older generations can be forgiven for their perception that kids these days only look at their devices.
But when we ask young consumers about their biggest passions, their phones are not on the lists. And they’re also bringing back a slew of analog trends—from vinyl to board games—that have nothing to do with screens and modern tech. As we’ve written before, much as they have embraced digital trends, they are also looking for a chance to unplug: according to a Ypulse survey more than half of 13-33-year-olds told us that they’ve unplugged, with 77% saying they’ve unplugged from their smartphone, followed by 66% who say they’ve unplugged from their social media accounts, and 63% from their computers. So what happens when they’re not on their phones, laptops, and tablets? In a Ypulse survey on their free time and offline activities, we asked 1000 13-34-year-olds, “What was the last activity you did for fun / leisure that did not involve electronic devices?”* Here’s exactly they’re doing when they put down their phones:
*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of activities Gen Z and Millennial consumers are engaging in when they’re away from their devices—without our preconceived ideas shaping their responses. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are most popular. The lists are ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.
What Are They Doing for Fun Without Devices?
- Outdoors / Nature activity
- Exercise / Fitness
- Cooking / Dining
- Movies / TV
- Concerts / Festivals
- Crafting / DIY
- Theme Parks / Arcades
- Play with pets
- Art / Design
Ah, the great outdoors. Some might be surprised to see that outdoor/nature activities were the top category of fun/leisure that Gen Z and Millennials are engaging in when they’re away from their devices. Hiking was the number one activity in this category, followed by walking, then beach visits. It might be the case that young consumers spend so much time on screens that they crave the exact opposite—and unplugging requires an escape into nature.
Sports was second on the list, indicating more outdoor activity time, and reading came up third—providing more evidence that Millennials and Gen Z really do love their books. In fact, Millennials are the most likely generation to use public libraries, according to a Pew Research Report. More than half of 18-35-year-olds have frequented a public library in the last twelve months, compared to 45% of Gen X, 43% of Boomers, and 36% of Silents. University libraries were specifically not counted, so being college-aged isn’t giving them any advantage, either. The finding goes hand in hand with Ypulse data that shows reading is 13-34-year-olds’ biggest hobby.
You’ll also notice though that movies and TV are also on the list—indicating that some young consumers don’t consider going to the movies or watching TV an interaction with an electronic device.
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