Gen Zers Generally Feel Positive About Social Media and Technology, Despite Admitting Concerns

Gen Zers Generally Feel Positive About Social Media and Technology, Despite Admitting Concerns

Nearly two-thirds of people ages 13 to 24 at times feel uncomfortable on social media
group of teenagers taking selfie for social media

People born into the digital age may never know life without social media. Still, members of Generation Z say they can recognize the positive and negative impacts of social media and technology, having experienced both sides.

A recent report from the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that promotes online safety for children and families, shows that Gen Zers (ages 13 to 24) are hopeful about future uses for new technology, while also expressing concerns about being overexposed.

Gen Zers report positive experiences with social media, technology despite concerns about inaction on platforms

Gen Zers use technology for various purposes, mainly revolving around entertainment, communication and connection. According to the FOSI survey, their top uses for the internet include social media, video games and content streaming.

And despite widespread concerns about social media platforms not addressing bullying and scams, Gen Zers largely report positive experiences with social media and technology.

Breaking this down:

  • 90% say their interactions on social media are mostly positive
  • 89% say they like using social media
  • 87% say they’re excited about the impact that new technology will have on the future
  • 73% say the content they see on social media is mostly positive

Concerns about social media range from feeling uncomfortable to spending too much time scrolling

Spending time online has its downsides. Daily screen time and online addiction are reported to be on the rise due to the coronavirus pandemic, so it's no surprise that Gen Zers report issues related to spending time online. FOSI respondents report uneasiness related to their online habits, including:

  • 66% who feel uncomfortable at least some of the time on social platforms
  • 61% who make an effort to unplug at least a few hours each week
  • 56% who admit to spending too much time on social media

Users are also concerned about cybersecurity: Just over half (52%) find the process of managing their online safety to be overwhelming, and 42% say they don't have the resources needed to do so.

That could be, in large part, due to their lack of awareness of available safety tools — in fact, 44% had no awareness of any available safety tools.

Survey respondents gave suggestions on how to be safe while online — among them, cybersecurity education. Notably, though, some of the best measures to improve personal security online are already available, free and relatively easy to utilize, including enabling two-factor authentication, getting app and browser updates as soon as they're available and using unique passwords for each account.

In an earlier survey on consumer security, some respondents said they'd rather watch paint dry than set up unique passwords. A subsequent survey reported that only 33% of respondents said they’d change the default passwords on their devices.

Methodology: FOSI commissioned The Harris Poll to conduct an online survey using three approaches:

  • A qualitative survey of 24 teens and young adults ages 13 to 24 who spend at least five hours a week online, fielded from June 22 to June 24, 2021
  • A quantitative survey of 1,000 teens and young adults ages 13 to 24, fielded from Aug. 11 to Aug. 23, 2021
  • A quantitative survey of 2,076 adults 18 and older — specifically focusing on 548 parents of children younger than 18 who spend time online — fielded from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2, 2021