While baby boomers and Generation X-ers had to adapt to life in the “connected world” as college students or company employees, the next generation have known about the internet from infancy and view “digital technology” as an intrinsic part of their lives. In OECD countries, over 95.6 percent of 16-24 year-olds have access to the internet as opposed to 48.8 percent usage among 65-74 year-olds (2015).
According to Global Kids Online research project (2016), about 80 percent of kids (aged 9-17) use smartphones for internet access. Meanwhile, the survey by marketing research company Nippon Information Inc. (※1) shows that smartphone use among secondary school pupils in Japan has increased 16 percent from 2016, comprising 77 percent in 2019.
While a Pew research study (2019) reports the use of social media platform Facebook by people of all ages including Gen Z, visual social media such as Instagram and YouTube are most popular among younger generation in the US with usage of 75 percent and 90 percent respectively.
In Japan, most widely used visual social network is LINE but its young user base has been shrinking in the three-year period from 72.3 percent in 2016 to 66.1 percent in 2019. The number of YouTube and Twitter users dwindled as well comprising 52 percent and 28.8 percent respectively in 2019. Meanwhile, Instagram users rose 1.6 percent to a 10 percent share in 2019.
Japan’s Gen Z seems to be shifting their interests towards “information search platforms” such as Google and Yahoo. As a result the number of users rose to 61.5 percent and 55.3 percent respectively in 2019.
About 30 percent of youngsters also referred to an overabundance of information on the web, saying it can be easier to ask people rather than turn to internet for answers.
As for online shopping, there are changes in the type of goods purchased by Japan’s Gen Z on the internet. While past buys focused on standard goods such as books and magazines, young people in 2019 are opting to purchase more expensive items such as make-up products and apparel.
Gen Z around the world may use different social media platforms but what they have in common is great capacity for “creative communication” in the form of videos, pictures, texts and art.
(※1)The survey was conducted in August 2019 based on Gen Z sample of 1200 pupils in Japan.