The Gen Z Marketing Blowback

GenZTo Generation Z, the kids who are now from age 5 to 19, digital technology is as ordinary as electricity is to the rest of us. First-day-of-school selfies are a thing, and kids consider technology to be their “virtual playground,” according to Nicola Kemp in Marketing Magazine UK.

“Generation Z, five- to 19-year-olds who have grown up to view technology as an extension of themselves, may consider it to be a virtual playground,” writes Kemp. “Their parents, however, are increasingly concerned over its omnipresence and are asking whether technology is giving their children the necessary space for creativity and imagination.”

So, Kemp asks, as parents’ unease at the encroachment of technology into their children’s lives grows, should brands brace themselves for the inevitable backlash? Consider these stats from a UK online parenting center:

  • 78% of parents believe their children are being exposed to too much technology
  • 89% of respondents limiting the time their children interact with tech devices such as iPads
  • 60% of parents more concerned about their children being on a tablet for too long than spending too much time in front of the TV

It’s not only parents who are concerned. In the U.S., The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages parents from allowing any “screen time” before the age of 2, citing research that this could delay language development.

As usual, it’s a case of “do what I say, not what I do” as many parents who express these concerns do little to actually alter their own their kids’ behavior. And of course, parents make the argument that to limit access to technology will mean their kids are behind the curve in terms of tools for future success.

Still, some experts predict this desire for “real” experiences will have huge impacts on brand marketing plans.

“Several brands are capitalising on parents’ worries by creating products and services that promote the idea of active exploration, which might be missing in digital devices. Hotel chain The Ritz-Carlton’s new kids programme, with its emphasis on supervised physical activity, exploration and creativity, is one example of this shift,” Kemp notes.

“There is a fabulous opportunity for children to be more creative as a result of technology,” says Gerry Whiteside of P2 Games. “But I also have a feeling that whenever their device’s battery runs out, the next generation will only find time for daydreaming while waiting for it to recharge.”

As with most things in this life, it comes down to balance. Time to daydream, wonder, discover and imagine is just a necessary as time to work, learn and be productive.

Our suggestion? Pick up a book or a magazine and grow your love of reading, together. And if your target audience includes kids and/or their parents, incorporate real-time face-to-face interaction into your product or services and promote these ideas as a wholesome addition to their lives.