How do teenagers use tech now? We currently have one working in our office — 17-year-old hubraum intern Claas Wunderer — so we decided to use this opportunity to find out as much as we could about one Gen Z-er’s social media and internet habits.
Let’s cut straight to the chase. What do you think the biggest tech developments will be in the next 20 years?
CLAAS: I think the way we access the internet and technology will change radically. We may eventually get a direct connection between the brain and technology or the brain and computers, this could really change how we live our daily lives and interact with technology. Imagine if controlling a computer became just like moving your hand around because it was so intuitive.
Besides that, I think the biggest tech developments will mostly be in the transport and energy sectors. I believe self-driving cars will be slowly integrated into our day-to-day lives and I don’t think people will buy their own cars in the future because car sharing will become so broadly accepted. I think this will also mean that jobs like long distance truck driving would eventually no longer exist.
And now something a little more everyday. Namely, how do you use social media?
CLAAS: Nobody my age uses Facebook, myself included. That’s for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Facebook is a bit old and I get the impression that the content is aimed at older people (or older than my generation, anyway). After the data scandals a lot of people mistrust Facebook. People my age mostly use Instagram or Snapchat.
I mostly use Instagram for between an hour to an hour and a half a day. If you watch a YouTube video, you need at least five to ten minutes. But I’ll derive just as much enjoyment from Instagram dipping in and out of it for three minutes at the bus stop as I would for half an hour.
I spend my time checking out my feed — I enjoy following coding memes and I also follow [German news show] Tagesschau and other news channels because I like to keep up with what’s going on. I’ll usually use it in the afternoons after school.
Half a year ago I used Snapchat quite regularly, but that was because of my ex-girlfriend because we sent each other snaps. Apart from that, I also use LinkedIn — I’ve been using it at my internship at hubraum to connect with people, as well as to get interesting insights into other companies or events.
What role does tech play in your daily life?
CLAAS: I like using tech to get a sense of how I’m spending my time. On my phone I have this app called Digital Wellbeing that monitors your activities — every evening I get a push notification which summarises how I spent my day, digitally-speaking. It will tell me whether I used Instagram for 1 hour 11 mins that day, for example, or if I browsed the internet for 60 mins.
It’s helpful because I easily spend way too much time on Instagram and forget about other stuff like homework and meeting with friends and Digital Wellbeing helps me to control that.
OUR TAKE ON CLAAS’S TAKE
While a teenager using his smartphone primarily to foster well-being might seem curiously responsible, Claas probably isn’t alone in this. Given Generation Z is in the middle of a mental health crisis (depressive symptoms amongst Generation Z are reportedly around two-thirds higher than the “millennial generation”), more focus is being applied to how to use the internet responsibly. Aside from this, transport is obviously a core concern for this Gen Z-er and environmental sustainability is also clearly at the forefront of his mind. At the end of the day, this reflects an encouraging mix of practicality and a more visionary focus — sustainability — and isn’t that something we can all learn from?
Ultimately, we should all ask the teenagers in our lives more about their perspectives on tech. As Claas himself told us, “in only a few short years — minimum two, maximum five — we’ll be running the show.”