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Gen Z & Millennials Are Generations of Researchers, and These Are Their Top Learning Resources

When Gen Z & Millennials want to learn something new, these are their first stops…

YPulse’s recent Self-Taught trend report digs into all the ways that Gen Z and Millennials are learning (outside the classroom) and found that over half say they are often doing research to learn about something new. These are two generations of researchers, who are used to taking learning into their own hands, whether they’re looking into the next product they’re buying, or a topic they’re newly passionate about. Gen Z and Millennials have (it goes without saying but we’ll say anyway) grown up online, and it has impacted their learning in many ways. One of the biggest: Our research shows that young consumers today are turning to digital platforms before any other resource when they want to learn something new:

Google and YouTube are the top resources that Gen Z and Millennials use when they want to learn something new. Our trend data also found that both generations are most likely to name Google as the first resource they would use if they wanted to learn something, followed by YouTube. Our research shows that brands, politics, mental health, careers, social causes, and personal finance are the top topics young people are more likely to use Google to learn about than other resources. In other words, when they need trusted information on a topic that could impact their lives and opinions, Google is their go-to source, notably, before trusted people like family/friends or, among students, a teacher.

Meanwhile, YouTube is the platform they’re turning to to dig into new, or existing, passions. DIY/How-to, how to use products, music, video games, hobbies, new skills, arts and design, and beauty / skincare were among the top subjects that young people tell us they turn to YouTube to learn. We’ve told you that Gen Z trusts YouTubers more than anyone else especially when it comes to general product recommendations, and they are also trusted sources for new information. Their reliance on YouTube as a guide into new hobbies and skills intensified during the pandemic. According to YouTube’s Trend Council, there was 600% increase in daily views of #WithMe videos in March 2020, as young users quarantined at home and sought connection and new ways to pass the time. The platform’s #WithMe campaign tapped this trend, highlighting creators and influencers posting videos teaching viewers everything from how to homeschool, give an at-home haircut, make homemade hand sanitizer, sew masks, and more.

With Gen Z still in school, this generation is more likely than Millennials to say they turn to teachers when they want to learn something new, but it is very notable that this generation is more likely to say they turn to digital platforms than teachers. We also explored the ways that young people are supplementing their classroom learning with digital education and found that Google is the top resource that Gen Z say they have turned to for help with school, again, before teachers.

But video games are another resource that Gen Z are more likely than Millennials to say they use to learn something new YPulse’s gaming research found that 59% of young consumers agree it’s appropriate to use video games to teach K-12 students, and 62% of Millennial parents say the same, compared to 57% of non-parents. Gaming platforms and specific industries have been finding ways to integrate more ways for young gamers to learn through video games. Recently, STEM educators hosted Fleming Tech Camps, virtual tech camps that “enable [students] to do rigorous math, logic, and design work they don’t often get in school.” It first went virtual last summer and helps “prepare [students] for the coming of the metaverse” by teaching STEM concepts via video game design, and is aimed at second graders through high school seniors, and offers lessons in computer coding and game design, visual arts, digital video, and more specific-subjects like the “Physics of Amusement Parks” and a digital fashion design class. Meanwhile, gaming platform Roblox worked with Boston’s Museum of Science along with a small educational game studio, and  announced that it invested $10 million to help develop three games for middle school, high school, and college students. One game will teach robotics, while the other two will focus on space exploration and helping students explore computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. While video games have faced scrutiny from parents and lawmakers, Roblox says it will give teachers the ability to create private groups (a.k.a. servers) for students to play games only among themselves on the platform.

While Google and YouTube are the biggest digital resources for learning among these Gen Z and Millennials, other platforms are also informing their education, and the future of learning could look very different in the wake of these generations.

YPulse Business users can access the full Self-Taught trend report and data here.

Don’t have a YPulse Business account? Find out more here.