While battles rage in the U.S. and Europe over to what extent the big internet companies should be allowed to collect people’s personal information and sell that information to advertisers and other end users, the companies may actually have a bigger problem. It turns out, the internet is a pretty boring place.
Generation Z, i.e. the young people born between 1998 and 2010 (post-Millennials), have fallen out of love with the internet. The youngsters are bored like all kids have been in their day, but now they are “phone bored,” as Taylor Lorenz calls it in The Daily Beast.
Imagine if kids started eschewing phones, tablets, and computers and instead opted to play outside or read books. A decline in the number of eyeballs viewing ads produced by Facebook and Google could have negative effects on their profits.
Lorenz details the new phenomenon:
But today’s teens are still bored, often incredibly so. They’re just more likely to experience a new type of boredom: phone bored.
As members of what has been dubbed “Generation Z,” a cohort that spans those born roughly between the years 1998 and 2010, today’s teens and tweens have had unparalleled access to technology. Many have had smartphones since elementary, if not middle school. They’ve grown up with high-speed internet, laptops, and social media.
It’s tempting to think that these devices, with their endless ability to stimulate, offer salvation from the type of mind-numbing boredom that is so core to the teen experience. But humans adapt to the conditions that surround them, and technical advances are no different. What seemed novel to one generation feels passé to the next. To many teens, smartphones and the internet have already lost their appeal.
Phone boredom occurs when you’re technically “on your phone,” but you’re still bored out of your mind. It’s that feeling when you’re mindlessly clicking around, opening and closing apps, looking for something to do digitally and finding the options uninteresting.
Whereas previous generations may have scrolled through channels on the radio, wandered into different rooms in their house, or flicked through countless TV channels, today’s teens say they’ll sometimes open and close up to 20-30 apps, hoping that something, anything, will catch their attention.
Read more here.