“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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“I move around every few years so it would be a huge hassle to have to buy and sell property so frequently.”—Female, 28, IN

Gen Z will spend the most on rent of any generation, but Millennials aren’t far behind. HotPads estimates that 2-20-year-olds will spend $226,000 on rent before they buy a home and 24-38-year-olds will ring in at $202,000. Despite the difference, Gen Z will own their first home one year earlier than Millennials because they’ll have “a stronger job market than [M]illennials”—but, despite the myths, they are buying homes in greater numbers. PS: Los Angeles tops the list of where young demos will spend the most on rent. (Business Insider)

What’s behind board games' popularity today? The NPD Group found that board games grew 8% compared to the toy industry’s overall growth of 8% in the past year and has “no signs of slowing down.” Digital detoxing plays a part, as more Millennial parents worry about their kids’ screen time and seek toys that foster face-to-face relationships. But despite the analog appeal, games are also getting high-tech and the word-of-mouth media they receive propels social media-friendly games like Pie Face to the top of toy charts. (Kidscreen)

Parents still have the most influence over kids today, but online celebrities are also top role models. Mintel research found that 86% of 6-17-year-olds say their parents are among their top role models, 62% say teachers, and 41% say siblings. But the top kind of celebrity that gets added to the category are social media celebrities at 35%, followed closely by musicians and athletes. Only 22% said actors were among their top role models and just 16% said the President. (MediaPost)

Disney has a new beverage to fill your Instagram feed: The Purple Wall Slushie. The Millennial & Gen Z-loved company has had no problem coming up with social media-friendly items, from Baby Groot bread to a viral Beauty and the Beast-inspired tumbler, and now they’ve rolled out a boba and taro beverage at Disney World. The Purple Wall is a famous destination to snap a pic for social media in the Magic Kingdom, and this slushy is made specifically to match up with the wall (and monetize on it). (POPSUGARInsider)

Speaking of Instagrammability, the Space Needle’s new, clear benches are sure to make for a thrilling photo op. The iconic viewing deck for the Seattle skyline has been in the midst of a makeover to create a better (and decidedly more social media-worthy) viewing experience. A metal base and caging has been replaced with a high glass wall from floor to sky, and so-called “skyrisers” will let visitors sit right on the edge of it all—and snap a selfie. (Curbed)

“People have been planning outfits since the start of the year [for prom].”—Male, 15, NC

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