A house of mirrors can be scary, but a house of screens can be time-destroying. Gen Z can’t seem to escape the screen, whether it’s scrolling endlessly through TikTok or binge-watching a documentary series. But now, a new wave of ‘digital detox’ is shifting the way Gen Z spends its time.
What is a digital detox?
A digital detox is any time a person spends away from digital devices, particularly social media, for any length of time. They can last for hours or they can last for several weeks. All they require is a conscious and purposeful effort in taking a break from tech. Gen Z is leading the way with young people being 5x more likely than Baby Boomers to have taken at least one digital detox.
Why is Gen Z going offline?
Fullscreen reports that just over half of Gen Z daydreams about life without social media. 54% believe that being constantly connected to our devices makes our mental health and wellbeing worse.
But young people aren’t giving up on social media entirely. Gen Z really does see social media with more nuance than other generations. We know it’s not the monster it’s made out to be, nor is it an unassuming place of positivity. We know how social media can truly be a force for good alongside the toxicity that it can bring. This is why we believe that a detox over a total boycott is healthy enough.
Digital detoxes are also triggering dialogue as Gen Z reckons with social media’s place in our lives, especially after the pandemic. Ziad Ahmed, co-founder and CEO of JUV Consulting, reflected on this himself, feeling increasingly ‘fatigued’ by social media. A chorus of Gen Z amens rang out. As much as we appreciate having socials to connect when we can’t safely see each other, exhaustion has definitely set in. Gen Z is starting to remap our relationship with social media and this will only increase as we move from the pandemic to the outdoors.
What marketers can learn from digital detoxes
So, how can you reach your Gen Z consumer if they’re not online as much as you thought? I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s about knowing how we interact with our virtual world and developing meaningful relationships with us that last beyond a temporary break.
Gen Z is constantly asking themselves about whether social media is meaningful and the pandemic has only increased that focus. 50% of digital detoxers are more likely to trust brands that are seen to be tackling the problem.
So, what could your brand do?
1. Take the time to appraise your messaging – what is its impact on Gen Z’s mental health? Are you adding or relieving our cognitive load?
2. Demonstrate how your brand is adding purpose to our lives. Is your brand on a mission to bring value to us?
3. Consider how your brand is developing a meaningful relationship with our generation. Are you in tune with what makes us tick?
Digital detoxes will only rise as our understanding of living in this virtual world evolves. The challenge is not insisting that Gen Z spend more time online, but finding ways to develop more meaningful relationships while we are online and spending time with your brand.
Gen Z may have an on-and-off again relationship with screen time, but it is safe to say we won’t commit to fully going ghost-mode.
JUV Consulting is a Gen Z collective that works with companies to create purpose-driven and authentic marketing campaigns that engage young audiences. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to learn how to reach Gen Z, or sign up for our weekly newsletter, The Screenshot, to get Gen Z insights straight to your inbox.
Jawwad Mustafa is the Director of The Screenshot Newsletter. He’s always got a drink in hand - either peppermint tea, peach iced tea or a vanilla latte. If you see him with anything else, you’ll really need to vote for him as The Imposter. You can find his creativity on Instagram at @JawwadTheCreator.