Move over Millennials, it’s Generation Z’s time to make headlines. The next generation, made up of those born between 1995 and 2010, has been in the news recently for their out of left field rejection of social media. According to a Nielsen report released in 2017, social media use is seeing a major decline among the newest generation. While those before them, from Millennials to Baby Boomers, are rising in social media numbers, the generation who hasn’t known life without it is turning away. Instead, they’re focusing their energy on making moves in government and striving for social justice.
For context, Generation Z is made up of:
- The folks who were born after the commercialization of the internet in the early ‘90s.
- The population of kids and teens that were growing up when Facebook (2004), Instagram (2010), and Snapchat (2011) were launched.
- The young adults who are now entering (or close to entering) the workforce and voting age.
This is the generation who is tech-savvy enough to support the social media empire but is informed enough to make a conscious choice on how and when it should be used. It seems that some are standing on principle and saying “no” to regular use of the platforms, now mainly using them to advance their social justice agendas. According to a study conducted by ORIGIN, a Hill Holliday research group, 34% of Generation Z have called it quits on social media and 64% have taken time off from at least one platform. Many who are active on social media are using it to extend their voice on current social issues.
But, why are some turning away from it? According to the ORIGIN study, of the 1,000 Gen Zer’s surveyed, reasons included social media causing feelings of anxiety, sadness, depression, being left out, lowered self-esteem, and distraction.
Facebook, the largest social media platform, has lost popularity with Gen Z judging by the 9% of teens who consider the site as their go-to social media platform, which tells us that loyalties are shifting. This generation is drowning in countless other apps today that just keep coming, rivaling the social media giant with new ways to share and communicate.
Generation Z has been in the public eye this year in the form of social activism, most notably following the Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Their lobbying for gun control reform has taken shape as local marches and protests and has garnered media attention all the way from Washington D.C. to the entire world.
With this surge in political motivation, many within Gen Z are advocating for governmental reform and urging their peers to vote by utilizing social media. Instead of using it for leisure, they’re putting the platforms to work by spreading the message of what needs to be changed and how it can be changed. With this generation’s numbers being projected to outnumber those of Millenials, their voting power will be game-changing.
As it stands, social media has become a major part of our everyday lives. A decline in its popularity among the next generation of users may mean big changes in how we use the Internet and what the Internet will look like. The question arises: Has social media reached its peak? As Generation Z’s influence continues to grow, only time may tell.
by Aura Altamiranda