Gen Z Is Turning Its Back On Social Networks – Why It Matters to the Toy Industry

For the last decade, those of us in the world of toys have watched social networks become increasingly essential as a conduit to end users and gatekeepers. The rise of Facebook and Instagram, in particular, has seemed unstoppable….until now.

Gen Z, specifically those 18 to 29, is turning its back on social networks. Pew Research has conducted a survey entitled, “Percentage of Americans who say they use at least one social media site, by age.” The survey looked at four age groups: People 18 to 29, 30 to 49, 50 to 64, and 65 and up. The only group to show a decline was the youngest, those 18 to 29.

This information is crucial to the toy industry as Gen Z is the newest generation to enter their child-bearing years. They are having children and will progressively dominate toy purchasing over the next decade. And let’s not forget, they like to play too. It is essential that we know best practices for communicating with them.

Why is Gen Z abandoning Instagram and Facebook? Blame it on the toxicity of the social networks and too many stories about people getting into trouble over careless or provocative posts. And let’s not forget that every generation ultimately rejects whatever their parents are not doing.

So, where is Gen Z going? They are going to sites like:

Snapchat provides instant messaging with a short shelf-life.  

Twitch provides live streaming and gaming.

Discord offers instant messaging through a variety of formats.  

BeReal asks you to pose pictures that depict you in “real” moments.

Poparazzi doesn’t want your selfies; it wants you to post pictures of your friends.

It’s not just social networks being impacted by Gen Z. Google is even finding Gen Z challenging. According to an NBC News article by Kalhan Rosenblatt, “Prabhakar Raghavan, a senior vice president at Google, cited the company’s internal research that found nearly half of young people use TikTok or Instagram instead of Google Maps or Google Search. The ages of those surveyed range from 18 to 24, according to TechCrunch.”

Gen Z wants its cohorts to answer its questions rather than soulless algorithms. Facebook (aka Meta) and Instagram are running scared and trying to turn themselves into versions of TikTok. The jury is out on whether their users want them to stay as they are or make the change. So, make your advertising and promotional decision accordingly.

While doing so, don’t forget that Generation Alpha is waiting for its turn on the generational stage. Alpha’s oldest members are now ten years old. Give it another ten or fifteen years, and we’ll be hearing about what changes they have in mind. Until then, keep your eyes on Gen Z.

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