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Earlier this year, CivicScience data found that young adults today report less social media usage than young adults five years ago. In particular, Gen Z adults aged 18-24 spend less time on social media apps, use Instagram over Facebook, and are less digitally addicted than adults 18-24 five years ago. 

Fast-forward to today – when new social media apps are being adopted (e.g. BeReal), influencer marketing is more prominent, and social media ads are more relevant – and Gen Z social media usage habits look different compared to young Millennials, now aged 25-34. CivicScience took a deeper dive at social media trends and behaviors among Gen Z adults aged 18-24 and Millennials aged 25-34 – two age groups introduced to social media early on in their lives. Here are three key trends generated from the CivicScience InsightStore. 

Social Media Habits: Daily Usage and Digital Addiction

Gen Z uses social media more overall than Millennials. CivicScience data show that 90% of Gen Z adults aged 18-24 report they use social media, compared to 88% of Millennials aged 25-34. 

Gen Z adults are also heavier users. Among users, 24% of Gen Z say they use it for 2-4 hours per day, and another 24% do so for 4+ hours per day (compared to 22% and 20% of Millennials). Conversely, Millennials are more likely to say they spend less than one hour (25%) and 1-2 hours (33%) on social media per day than Gen Z (22% and 29%).

Even though Gen Z and Millennials report differences in how much time they spend on social media per day, data suggest that how they perceive their social media consumption is the same. When asked if they consider themselves addicted to their digital devices, 61% of both Gen Z and Millennial social media users said they are addicted to their devices overall, and 39% said they are not. 

However, Millennial social media users are more likely to say ‘yes’ they are addicted, and Gen Z are more likely to say they’re ‘somewhat’ addicted. 

Top Social Media Platforms

Which social media apps are most popular among Gen Z and Millennials? A close look at ten social media platforms shows that Gen Z uses nearly every social media app more than Millennials. YouTube is the most frequently used app among both generations – 51% of Gen Z use it daily, and 44% of Millennials do the same. 

Gen Z uses TikTok and BeReal much more frequently than Millennials. They’re twice as likely to be daily BeReal users and 17 percentage points more likely to use TikTok daily. Millennials are only more likely to use Facebook and Reddit daily, but there’s a smaller percentage gap between them regarding Twitter and LinkedIn daily usage. 

Social Media Influence

Influencer marketing is prominent across social media platforms, and CivicScience data show that Gen Z is much more likely to be influenced by social media. Gen Z adults are 10 percentage points more likely than Millennials to say they’ve purchased a product in the past six months because an influencer/blogger recommended it on social media (29% vs. 19%). A possible reason for this distinction is that Gen Z is more likely to say they trust social media influencers and are much more likely to follow content creators online. 

A close look at how social media can influence various behaviors – from buying clothes to listening to music – shows that Gen Z is more influenced across the board. They’re much more likely than Millennials to say social media influences the clothing and accessories they buy (67% vs. 48%) and the food they buy (64% vs. 47%). Notably, both generations say social media impacts the movies/television shows they watch the most (77% of Gen Z and 63% of Millennials).

It’s clear from the data that Gen Z and Millennials have diverse social media habits. Gen Z is more likely to use social media daily and be influenced by it in their everyday lives, such as what music they listen to or TV shows they watch. Despite these differences, both generations report equivalent levels of digital addiction, which could mean they have different perceptions of what it means to be digitally addicted. 

CivicScience is constantly tracking the latest social media trends and habits among Americans. Work with us to stay ahead of the curve.