Lockdowns have led to a surge in online activity around the world, but research from Dentsu Aegis Network shows nearly half of Gen Z believe their personal use of tech has a negative impact on their health and wellbeing.

The agency’s latest Digital Society Index (DSI) includes analysis of more than 5,000 Gen-Z’ers as part of a worldwide study of 32,000 people conducted at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic looking into consumers’ relationship with technology and brands.

Gen Z concerns about health and wellbeing were especially marked in Spain (59%), Australia (55%) and France (53%).

Europeans in this age group were also significantly more likely to have deactivated social media accounts in the past 12 months. While the global figure stood at 17%, the figure for Finnish (34%) respondents was twice as high, with Spanish ones (30%) not far behind.

Globally, a third (31%) have limited the time they’ve spent online or looking at their smartphone and almost half (43%) have taken steps to reduce the amount of data they’re sharing online, such as clearing their search history or opting out of geo-location services.

It’s clear, says Dentsu, that they’re taking these measures because of their awareness of how their data may be used as well as some of the perceived negative impacts of technology on society.

More than half of Gen Z’ers (58%) said they don’t trust tech companies because of concerns over how they use their data, while four out of ten (37%) believed social media is having a negative impact on political discourse in their country – a view that’s highest in Hungary (56%), Australia (50%) and the USA (48%).

Despite these suspicions, Gen Z appears confident that technology will ultimately do more good than bad. Two-thirds (62%) are optimistic that digital technologies will help solve the world's most pressing challenges, and half believe AI and robotics will create career opportunities for them in the next 5-10 years,

Brands are also expected to play their part, as nearly three-quarters (72%) of Gen Z think they will need to demonstrate how their use of tech benefits society over the same time period.

“Brands need to reassess how they build relationships with this cohort in a way that places a premium on transparency, empowerment and a clear value exchange when using consumer data,” said Masaya Nakamura, CEO Solutions at Dentsu Aegis Network.

“They also need to ensure they are using technology in a way that delivers wider societal benefit as expectations on brands increase to create helpful experiences and solutions. Gen Z’ers are tech champions – but you’ve got to earn their trust first.” 

Sourced from Dentsu Aegis Network