Gen Z: a generation defined by on-demand smartphone access. Nearly half of Gen Z students say they are online "almost constantly," leaving everyone, especially educators, wondering what impact the prevalence of technology has had on students’ lives and will have on their futures.¹
EVERFI recently surveyed 3,400 middle school students to help educators gain a better understanding of students' overall digital wellness. We dug into everything from how students are using technology to what impact it's having on their lives and mental health to what role a teacher truly plays in student technology use.
As you develop student lessons for a healthy digital lifestyle, here are three things to know about Gen Z and technology use:
1. Students are online a lot, spending much of their time on social media.
The daily average time spent online by middle schoolers is 5-6 hours, with 3-4 hours a day spent on social media. Girls are slightly more likely than boys to spend their online time on social media.
2. Students are largely positive about technology's overall impact on their lives but are more modest in their expectations when it comes to social media.
Two-thirds of students say technology has had a mostly positive impact on their lives, while only 47% of students say the same about social media. Many middle schoolers are middling about social media's influence, with 41% saying it has had neither a positive nor a negative impact on their lives.
3. Teachers play an important role in students' views of technology and their online well-being.
More than eight-in-ten students (81%) say they've had a teacher talk to them about online safety. Those students are more likely to say that technology and social media have had a positive effect on their lives and are less likely to report getting in trouble for their technology use.
To get a full look at the data and access resources for teaching digital wellness in middle school, download the complete white paper Generation Z and Technology: How Teachers Can Improve Student Experiences in Online Health.
The survey was conducted by EVERFI, a leading education technology company providing learners of all ages with education for the real world. EVERFI offers free digital wellness, mental health, and social-emotional learning lessons to K-12 educators. The survey was conducted online from April 16th to April 29th, 2019, among middle school students prior to their completion of a course about digital wellness and safety. The final sample size of the survey is 3,493 and includes students from 44 states and the District of Columbia.
¹Pew Research Center, May 2018, "Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018"