“Dumb” Phones Are Young Consumers’ New Digital Detox

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

Millennials & Gen Z aren't afraid to admit it—they're addicted to their smartphones. Could a credit-card-sized, not-so-smart phone reverse their slide into Black Mirror-level tech use? We talked to The Light Phone's CEO & co-founder to find out...

Tech addiction is real, and unsurprisingly, young consumers struggle most. Ypulse data shows over two in five 13-35-year-olds say they’re addicted to social media and six in ten say they’re addicted to their phones. So they're questioning the role of smartphones in their (and their kids') lives, seeing them at best as useful tools they use too often and at worst, the beginning of a dystopian future à la Black Mirror. In reaction to the digital overload, many are seeking digital detoxes, applying their minimalist outlook to their devices. Adweek reported that one camp requires campers to put away their devices for four days and engage in fitness activities, while NYP highlighted the vacation companies that confiscate travelers’ smartphones and sell out their trips as a result.

Tech and social media companies are reacting to the backlash, creating controls they hope can curb concerns while keeping customers clicking. Apple fleshed out their parental controls while Facebook changed their newsfeed algorithm to reduce time spent, which could trigger ripples in an industry that abides by the mantra: “the more screen time, the more revenue,” reports the Wall Street Journal. And most recently, Wired took a deep dive into Google’s new collection of Android features that they’ve dubbed “digital well-being.”

But while major companies are trying to undo their damage, smaller companies are rising up to tackle the problem head-on. One such company can thank a Google incubator for its birth, where two employees came up with the idea for minimal, new…


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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “A lot of people stay in jobs they hate. They feel stuck or need the money. I refuse to do this. I just gave up a Nursing career to be a CSR and I have never been happier.”—Female, 27, IN

YouTube is cracking down on creators that participate in dangerous viral challenges. The media giant updated their community guidelines to take a stronger stance against stunts that spin out of control—like the Tide Pod Challenge. Any creator that performs “pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger” will earn a strike—three and they’re out. What could constitute a strike? Just ask Jake Paul, who recently drove blindfolded for the #BirdBoxChallenge. (The Verge)

The inner five-year-old of Millennials everywhere is jumping up and down for Hot Topic’s Polly Pocket collab. In partnership with Mattel, the brand that wins at delivering unique styles is dropping a 17-piece collection of nostalgic merch. (The line looks a lot like another throwback collection we called out last year.) In celebration of the iconic toy’s 30th birthday (feel old yet?), ‘90s kids can cop everything from bags to hats to mini makeup palettes that feature shades like “Made in the 90s.” (Nylon)

YouTubers Life OMG! is like The Sims for a generation of aspiring social media stars. Players can pretend to be a video game streamer, a passionate creative, or another influencer. But the game is just as realistic as the kids who play it, making them do chores and deliver newspapers when they’re off the air. Similarly, most kids seem to know the dream is not a full-time gig; just take it from nine-year-old Oliver, who explains, “Of course I will have a good job as well, not just YouTube." (Vice)

Big brands are swooping in to save young shoppers from 2018’s oat milk shortage. The buzzy beverage has become the environmentally friendly alternative to almond milk for Millennial & Gen Z shoppers seeking dairy-free and vegan options. It became a barista favorite this year, mainly thanks to industry upstart, Oatly, which is opening a new factory to up their production. But they better hurry: big brands like Pepsi Co.’s Quaker Oats, Danone’s Silk, and Califia Farms are all getting in on this grain-based trend. (Bloomberg)

The most old-fashioned form of TV is experiencing a surge: over-the-air. While the Post-TV Gen continue to cut the cord, more are buying physical antennas to tap free networks and watch live events. Nielsen data found that this kind of old-school appointment viewing jumped from 9% of all homes in 2010 to 14% last year. Diving deeper into that 14%, about three in five also subscribe to streaming services like Netflix, and their median age is 36. (Fortune)

Quote of the Day: “I’d rather do a job I'm passionate about for a lower salary than do a high-paying but low-rewarding job.”—Male, 18, MA

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