The ‘Digital Natives’

Cerebra Submitted by on the 10th of September 2012

Written by Rachel Calteaux

‘Generation Z’ otherwise known as the ‘Digital Natives’ might have more influence on the current social media landscape than we think.

This digital-savvy generation comprises of those born in the mid 1990’s to the early 2000’s, meaning the majority of them have grown up with the Internet and caught onto social media before anyone else. This generation has been weaned on smart phones and laptops and they have, if not will, become comfortable and even dependent on digital technology. “Gen Z” is one of International Agency JWT’s “100 things to Watch” for 2012.

JWT illustrate that due to Generation Z and their tech savvy skills, many family members are turning to them as the ‘go-to’ source when dealing with the web and all its intricacies. The consequence being that the digital natives will inevitably have a major influence on household behavior and purchasing decisions. So what are these digital natives about and how do we cater for them?

According to the ‘Grail Research division of Integreon (a research company), one of the main traits of this generation is that they are becoming masters of multitasking due of the over whelming amount of different ‘stuff’ demanding their attention, including online products, social media communication and the every-day tasks that continue to exist. Consequently, they prefer online products such as interaction, shopping and business as it’s simple, fast and interactive.

Another characteristic the digital natives posses as a result of overexposure to worldwide crisis and issues such as terrorism, climate change and politics (via the net) is social responsiveness. This should be seen as an opportunity by organisations to maintain a more proactive socially responsible presence online. This can be done by allowing people to engage themselves in social awareness campaigns, or by posting content that is more socially responsible in nature.

Lastly, and possibly the most important point; continuous exposure to social media has caused these digital natives to feel an unquenchable thirst to stay connected. Digital natives inherently love to reach out to, and share with, as many people across as many countries as social media platforms allow. This is because social media is what they rely on when building and maintaining their personal brands, not only online, but in their everyday lives as well. This phenomenon suggests that this generation would see people they come into contact with mostly through the lens of their social media profiles. Social media platforms therefore need to be more interactive and comprehensive than ever before.

So what is the point? The more personal social media platforms and companies using those platforms allow people to be, and the more insight into their lives they allow people to share online, the more popular they will be with the up-and-coming generations. This being said, it is important that one recognises the need for different, innovative and creative ways for people to share their lives online… but that’s a whole other blog post.