Generation Z, also known as Gen Z or iGen, are people born between 1997 and 2012. They are the first generation to grow up entirely in the digital age and are known for their tech-savviness and skepticism towards traditional institutions, including mainstream media. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, around 60% of Gen Z respondents believe that news organizations tend to be politically biased, compared to 49% of Millennials and 35% of Gen X. Additionally, a study by the Knight Foundation found that only 25% of Gen Z respondents trust the information they get from national news organizations "a lot," compared to 32% of Millennials.
This trend of skepticism towards mainstream media among Gen Z can be attributed to a few factors. Firstly, the rise of social media has led to an increase in the amount of fake news and misinformation circulating online distancing the general public from social reality. As a result, Gen Z may be more likely to question the credibility of news sources and be more discerning about the information they consume. Secondly, the decentralized nature of the media landscape has made it harder for mainstream media organizations to maintain a monopoly on the news. This has led to a situation where people are able to choose the news sources that align with their own views, rather than being forced to rely on a small number of mainstream outlets.
However, modern day social reality apps are offering a different and potentially more authentic experience. These apps prioritize authenticity in the user experience and differ from traditional social media apps that tend to encourage users to present a carefully curated version of themselves. Instead, social reality apps encourage users to be more spontaneous and candid. This creates a sense of intimacy and trust between users and fosters a sense of community. BeReal, Mastodon, and Therr app are some examples of social reality apps that have seen a recent spike in popularity among Gen Z.
One of the defining traits of Gen Z is their digital fluency. Members of this generation have grown up in a world saturated with technology and have never known a time without the internet. As a result, they are extremely comfortable using digital devices and social media platforms, and they have a natural inclination for multitasking and consuming media across multiple sources. Additionally, Gen Z is the most diverse and socially conscious generation yet, with more awareness and inclination towards Gender, sexual and racial equality, Sustainability and mental health issues than previous generations. They are also highly entrepreneurial and are keen on creating their own opportunities.
New organizations led by Gen Z are popping up in the mainstream. The LogOff Movement for example, is one group that has been encouraging authenticity and unplugging from social media at regular cadences. They center around mental health and the negative effects that older models of social media like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok have on our general wellbeing. They also lead political movements to make big tech, social media companies responsible for the mental health of their users.
To sum up, Gen Z's skepticism towards mainstream media is a trend that can be linked to the rise of fake news, the decentralized nature of the media landscape and the tendency of the younger generation to prefer a more authentic and unfiltered version of the world. Social reality apps offer a different experience by prioritizing authenticity, which is something that appeals to Gen Z. As these mindsets grow and spread across generations, we expect to see big changes in markets dependent on social media marketing, and especially, influencer marketing.
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