The Gen-Z News Diet: How Digital-Reliant Are Our Digital Natives?

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« Digital natives ». That’s the name Generation Z has earned themselves. This cohort of people born between 1997 and 2012 are the first generation ever to be raised into the digital world. Lost in their smartphones, how does this generation get their information when it comes to news?

Questions like these are frequently raised by the older generations. So, we took matters into our own hands and followed the habits of a student for three days, Sunday until Tuesday!

It should not come as a shock that printed media was used the least. Not once in the three days did the student think of buying a newspaper. In fact when asked about it she exclaimed: « Do people even read newspapers these days? »

Second to be forgotten? The TV! Apparently television was the last resort when, at the end of the day, she wanted to just sit and relax on the couch. But, it took only 20 minutes of staring at the tube before boredom set in and… what can we say? Netflix started calling.

Perhaps surprisingly, radio and podcasts were used a lot more. At the breakfast table with coffee in hand it’s hard to scroll through the news – far simpler to tune in to the radio to stay informed. The BBC was the preferred choice this time.

Apparently, Gen Z considers the BBC to be more objective than other media. So, with over 2 hours a day of usage, radio won its rightful place on the list!

Not far behind live radio were podcasts; consistently they were first pick when commuting or running errands. Why? Let’s see what the student had to say!

« Well they are entertaining and easy to keep up. I can always pause it if I want and listen to it later. When I’m on the bus, I just plug my earphones and get lost. It’s boring having to read so why not listen? »

It doesn’t come as a surprise though that podcasts were listened to for more than 2 hours during the weekdays but less than an hour on a Sunday. Turns out, it really is made for errands!

The winner of course, taking first place, the web! We figured that the web was used to get information for more than 4 hours per day, Sundays including. But, one thing came as a bit of a surprise…

According to the student’s habits, 80% of the articles she came across were never even opened. She just read the headline and decided that they were probably not that interesting. Not only that but from the 20% that were actually read, she only read 16% to the end.

And her articles of interest? Well, politics and news took up a 60%. Of course celebrities, movies and gossip another 20%. The last 20% was a mixture of health tips, travel and other feature articles.

I guess you’re probably wondering that something is missing. We are after all talking about Gen Z so… where does social media fit in to the equation?

It might come as a shock- but even though the student spent a considerable amount of time on social media platforms, none of her news came from there. When questioned on this, she explained:

« Social media is fun. I always scroll through them to relax. But to get informed? I would never trust them. Anyone can say anything there. I could never separate actual news from nonsense. »

Who would have guessed it! Perhaps social media might be losing its grip on Gen Z… At any rate, it seems our digital natives will be staying true to their title for the time being.

Kyriaki Topalidou