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What does Gen Z do online? We looked at their phones to find the answer!

We love diving into the data to help organisations understand Gen Z talent and, in turn, give them the best chance of attracting and retaining them. And we weren't surprised when we saw statistics like these:

  • There were 66.3 million internet users in the United Kingdom at the start of 2024 [97.8% internet penetration].

  • The UK was home to 56.2 million social media users in January 2024 - that's 82.8% of the total population.

  • Nearly 89 million mobile devices were active in the UK in early 2024 [that's 131% of the total population!].

  • Almost all (98%) UK adults aged 16-24 now have a smartphone.

  • The average amount of daily time spent online is 3 hours and 41 minutes.

  • 18–24-year-olds spend the most time online, at 4 hours 36 minutes a day.

Sources: DataReportal 2024; Uswitch 2024, Ofcom 2023

These numbers are significant and do a lot to show how much the online world plays in the lives of the people employers want to reach. They're on social media, they're messaging friends, they're consuming entertainment and news, and they're gaming.

What does this mean for attracting Gen Z talent into your organisation?

It means a lot! By understanding how Gen Z communicates with others and where they spend their time, you can build attraction campaigns that fit in and amongst their day-to-day lives.

We decided to ask our Gen Z community to share their screen time reports on their phones.

Here at Not Going To Uni, we are in a privileged position to reach thousands of people looking at what their career options are after they leave education. And we have an active group of NGTU Ambassadors who create content for us and give us some valuable insights!

So we decided to contact them to find out how they spent their time on their mobile phones. There's nothing like a screenshot of your screen time report to dive deep [try it yourself and you may be surprised about your own mobile usage!].

This gave us a view into two valuable behaviours:

✅ Time spent on their mobile phones

✅ Which mobile apps they used the most

We had a great response with our WhatsApp Group pinging within minutes with their screenshots. And here's what we found!

Time spent

They spend a lot of time on their phones! Total screen time in a week varied from just over 9 hours to a massive 60 hours and 51 minutes! This means daily averages range from 3 hours to nearly 11 hours.

When we look at the time split by category, we see social media coming out on top but also entertainment, information and reading, creativity, productivity and finance, and travel.

Most popular apps

After we saw how their time was split by category, we dived into which apps they spend most of their time on.

TikTok noticeably tops the lists of many, and Instagram, WhatsApp, and YouTube stood out as other apps that took up a lot of their online consumption. While we do see the Safari web browser feature, it's very telling that this is crowded out by social media, messaging, and music apps. So while organisations spend thousands of pounds on Google Search Engine Marketing Campaigns, Gen Z mobile phone users are on other apps instead!

Our key takeaways

While this is a snapshot into the screen time world of some of our NGTU Ambassadors, it does give you some valuable pointers:

✅ A lot of time is being spent on mobile phones - this is a potential issue as Gen Z tries to decrease their time on screen. But there's an opportunity to help them spend quality time on screen by giving them content that helps develop their understanding of their career options and the world of work.

✅ TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram are too big to be a bit-part in your talent attraction - what are you creating for these platforms [and their users!]? And are you paying as much attention to these platforms as Gen Z is?

✅ The popularity of messaging means a lot of communication is happening behind closed doors - people spend a lot of time messaging their friends, families, and colleagues. This isn't public in the same way as TikTok, Instagram, or a YouTube post or comment is, but activity in the DMs [Direct Messaging] is a big deal. In fact, Instagram noticed this and has created Broadcast Channels for brands and creators who can send WhatsApp-style messages to subscribers. So make sure your content is good enough for Gen Z to share with others in the DMs.

✅ Snapchat still has a role to play - For all the talk about TikTok, it can be easy to forget about the original disruptor - Snapchat. It still enjoys a small but loyal following who find great value in direct messaging their friends.

So there you have it. If any of this resonates with you or you want us to do more articles like this then let us know.

And we're happy to dive deeper into the insights with you if you want a bespoke insights report built by our team! Our community is highly engaged and more than happy to help employers with their views and experiences.

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