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3 Stats on How Gen Z Is Being Raised on Smartphones

Why Gen Z is more hooked on their phones than Millennials…


  • Gen Z has been raised on smartphones, receiving them at far younger ages than Millennials
  • As a result they’re more likely to be hooked on phones, and say they can’t live without them 
  • Millennial parents are giving their own kids phones at even younger ages

There’s no question that both Gen Z and Millennials are tech savvy generations who have grown up in the digital age—and use their phones for almost everything. But YPulse’s recent tech / device usage behavioral data shows that Gen Z is even more hooked on mobile. Here are three stats that show why this younger generation is being raised on smartphones:

Gen Z got their first smartphones even earlier in life than Millennials.
One of the keys to generational differences is context. When a generation grows up with something, say a new technology, as their norm, it’s not only more natural for them to use compared to older gens, but also resets their expectations for everything else that comes after. The iPhone was first released in 2007 when the oldest members of Gen Z were just six. The majority of them don’t remember a pre-smartphone world, and they’ve also had them in-hand from incredibly young ages. YPulse’s recent tech / device usage behavioral report found, on average, Gen Z got their first smartphone at age 12 (around 7th grade) compared to Millennials’ average of 17-years-old (around 12th grade). Their digital connection began at earlier ages than Millennials, making smartphones one of their first screens and Gen Z a truly mobile-focused generation. Having grown up with these tools at hand, most have never known a time when they didn’t have a world of knowledge at their fingertips. That also means they’re potentially more reliant on those devices than anyone…

Gen Z is more likely than Millennials to say they can’t live without their smartphones.
Gen Z rely on their smartphones to do almost everything, with 79% of 13-20-year-olds telling us they can’t live without their smartphones compared to 70% of 21-39-year-olds. And they’re also more likely than Millennials to use their smartphones multiple times a day. YPulse’s mobile/app behavior report found that the majority of Gen Z open social media apps every week, while a Common Sense survey found that the average teen now spends more than a third of the day online. While social media takes up a lot of Gen Z’s smartphone usage, they’re doing other things on there as well. Smartphones have become their screen of preference, and the center of their entertainment: Our media consumption research also found that the majority of 13-20-year-olds use their smartphones to watch video content on a weekly basis.  They’re listening to music, shopping, gaming, and streaming content all on that one device. But as Gen Z continues to use their smartphones for everything, Millennial parents are already priming the next generation when it comes to smartphone ownership and usage…

Nearly half of Millennial parents have given their own kids smartphones already.
Thanks to Millennial parents, the next generation will be just as hooked on phones as Gen Z. Our tech/device use survey found that Millennial parents plan to give their kids their first smartphone at an average age of 12. But we also found 43% of Millennial parents tell us they have given their child a smartphone. A reminder that YPulse’s Millennial parent research shows the majority of this generation of parents has children under the age of nine. So it’s possible that the younger half of Gen Z is getting their own devices at even younger ages. Meanwhile, only 7% of Millennial parents tell us that they never plan to give their children their own smartphone. Of course, an entire industry of kids’ smartphones is also catering to this shift: Troomi Wireless and Samsung introduced two phones last year designed specifically for kids, but there’s a catch. They don’t have access to any social media, and it’s preloaded with parental controls and educational content. And according to Troomi’s CEO, the phones were made to introduce cell phone use in a more controlled way, with parents deciding what sites can be visited and setting game play limits. YPulse’s data shows that the majority of Millennial parents are worried about their kids’ spending too much time on screens, but at the same time the convenience of being able to contact their kids is too much of a draw. So, they’re well on their way to creating the next mobile-focused gen.

YPulse Business users can access the full Tech Device/Usage behavioral report and data here.

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