Fresh evidence has emerged as to why young people are deserting TV and the press in their droves; they are simply fed up being stereotyped in traditional media which they claim portrays them as lazy, self-obsessed, video gaming “snowflakes”.
According to the latest instalment of the “UK by UM” project – carried out by media agency UM – seven out of ten (69%) Generation Zers think they are being stereotyped in society and are in no doubt where the blame lies.
The project, which covers 2,000 UK adults – 1,100 of whom are aged 18-24 – highlights that young people see social media platforms as the best channel when it comes to representing their age group in the most authentic way: 43% felt accurately represented by Instagram, 38% by Snapchat and 32% by Facebook.
By comparison, only 18% of GenZers think TV speaks to their generation in an authentic way and a mere 9% feel the same about newspapers. Meanwhile, 38% feel Instagram speaks to them authentically, and 28% see online influencers as an authentic source.
The survey also reveals that the most offensive stereotypes to those aged 18-24 are that their age group is “unintelligent” and “unambitious”. In addition, two-thirds (68%) think the world is a harder place for younger generations than ever – and more than half (53%) of those aged 25 and over agree.
But while they embrace social media, three-quarters (75%) of GenZers actually feel their age group is under a great deal of psychological pressure in the digital age, and 63% of those aged 25+ concur.
This manifests in a number of ways: the research highlights young people are significantly more likely than those aged over 25 to worry about their mental health (65% vs 46%); whether or not others see them as successful (48% vs only 18%); and about being bullied (38% vs 19%).
UM managing partner of strategy Sophia Durrani said that the study shows brands and advertisers need to think about how and where they speak to GenZers, insisting the way they view the world – the media they consume and the ways in which they consume it – are vastly different to what many companies may be used to.
Durrani added: “It’s easy to throw around buzzwords like ‘authenticity’, but brands that fail to accurately portray – and grasp – the thinking of young people are doomed to failure. It’s no wonder that movements like Extinction Rebellion have caught their imagination, as much of the traditional media seems intent on perpetuating regressive stereotypes whilst also setting unrealistic benchmarks for material success.
“Generation Z faces major challenges on all sides – an uncertain future, a fragmenting world and ever-increasing pressures – both in the physical and the digital worlds. They earn comparatively less than their parents did and yet face unrealistic representations of ‘success’ in the media every day.”
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