This is What Millennials & Gen Z Are Doing on Their Phones the MOST

What does a day in the life of a Millennial/Gen Z smartphone look like—and what are they doing on their phones the most every day? We checked in with 1000 13-34-year-olds to find out…

Whether you think that smartphones are destroying the next generation, or believe that the devices we’re all hooked on have as many positive effects as negative, good luck prying their phones out of their hands now. When we asked Millennials and Gen Z what tech item they would buy next if they could buy anything, a new smartphone beat out everything else. They have moved from luxury to indispensable in the eyes of these generations. In fact, 64% of 13-34-year-olds told us that their smartphone is the one device they own that they can’t live without—laptop came in second with a vastly lower 13%.  

Half of 13-34-year-olds tell us that they spend 1-4 hours a day on their phones—and almost three in ten admit to spending 5-8 hours on it. It’s no wonder that brands are hungry to find new ways to break into mobile, and we’re always digging to find out what exactly young consumers are doing on the devices they love. Earlier this year, we used behavioral tracking to get a glimpse inside Millennials and Gen Z’s mobile social world, but we also asked 1000 13-34-year-olds to tell us how often they use their phones for a range of activities. Today, we’re showing exactly what they’re doing the most.

We’ll start with an overview of 13-34-year-olds’ daily use: 

As we saw in 2016, messaging is the top activity that Millennials and Gen Z are using their phones for daily, followed by social networking, and listening to music. Between messaging and social media, these generations are never separated from their friends and family, and in our recent mobile/app behavior survey, 78% told us that they are always connected…

 
 

Want to talk to us about the article
or dive into a custom study?


The Newsfeed

“Art is basically my job and I enjoy it so much.”—Female, 15, MD

Snap is making its “biggest move” in scripted original content, teaming up with NBCUniversal and the Duplass brothers for their next series. The Duplass-owned creative studio Donut will produce original series for Snap shot in vertical video. NBCU and Snap will also be opening a joint digital content studio focused completely on mobile-first entertainment, “formaliz[ing] their partnership” and putting Snap firmly in the producing/original content creation camp. Snap’s mobile-only approach is part of a movement to shake up how we view videos—in fact, they’re calling their offering “a fundamentally new medium.” (THRTechCrunch)

Eggo frozen waffles are capitalizing on their unexpected Stranger Things’ fame. The brand has seized the marketing opportunity of being a part of one of Millennials & Gen Z’s favorite shows, tying themselves into Netflix’s Super Bowl ad, creating a special toaster for select fans, and swarming New York Comic Con with people dressed up like Eleven armed with “watch party kits” (aka “waffles and a microwavable syrup server”). To prep for the premiere of season two of the show, Eggo is sending out a fully-loaded food truck for the red carpet premiere, and going all out on social media to connect with fans. (MediaPost)

More teens than ever have severe anxiety, but why? The American College Health Association found a 12% increase in undergrads reporting “overwhelming anxiety” from 2011 to 2016, and several studies concur that “there’s just been a steady increase of severely anxious students.” Social media is part of the problem—constant like-monitoring and cyber bullying isn’t helping the most stressed generation to date. There’s also an increasing (and constant) perceived need to over-achieve. One psychology professor observes, “There’s always one more activity, one more A.P. class, one more thing to do in order to get into a top college.” (NYTimes)

Ypulse research has shown that 88% of Millennial parents are trying to avoid helicopter parenting—but they might not be able to help it. The constant media storm of global atrocities and everyday stories of parenting gone wrong combined with advertisers’ willingness to fear-monger, results in a generation of (understandably) anxious parents. It doesn’t help that the tech to constantly monitor kids is easily available (albeit pricey)—from drone surveillance meant for the military to devices that track “blood-oxygen levels all night long.” One relationship therapist sums up, “Everyone is having a hard time drawing a line and just figuring out what’s reasonable versus what’s over-protective.” (Refinery29)

Brands are turning college students into mini-sales forces. Aerie, Victoria’s Secret Pink, and Express are just a few of the many brands that have a program for college campus reps where students receive swag, experience, and other perks for helping bring brand awareness to their colleges. Though brands don’t always require social posts, most ambassadors do share their swag on social, bringing organic ads to their friends’ feeds. The biggest draw is that social posts from reps “[come] across as natural, authentic, a product that they would normally use or want to talk about.” (Racked)

“[Celebrity] can mean anything nowadays and it's a rather diluted term; from YouTube star, to someone on Instagram with millions of followers, to reality TV dopes, etc.”—Male, 30, WI

Sign Up Now

Subscribe for premium access to our content, data, and tools.

Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Upgrade Now

Upgrade for full access to the best marketing tools for understanding the next generation.

View our Client Case Studies