In 2016, college students reported that in their senior year in high school, they only spent two hours a week at parties, only one-third the amount of time that Gen-X students at that age spent at parties in 1987. It's not only a matter of them partying less, they are spending less time just hanging out, less time socializing in person with their friends.
As the above graph shows, the percentage that is spending more than 10 hours a week socializing with friends has declined since just ten years earlier.
Jean Twenge, PhD, author of iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy - and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood - and What That Means for the Rest of Us, says “The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers' lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.”
Twenge's research found that the number of teens who get together with their friends every day dropped by more than 40% from 2000 to 2015 with the decline being especially steep recently.
There are a number of explanations for iGen (also called GenZ) going out less to party and to socialize. As Twenge points out, the primary one, of course, is the availability of social media and texting. iGen socializes differently than previous generations, they just stay home and hang out with their friends using their phones much more frequently than getting together in person.
One reason to go out and party is boredom. Now there's Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and so many other things you can do on the web to keep you from being bored. So iGen just stays home rather than going out.
“Livechilling” is the newest way for teens to hang out with one another as a replacement for in-person meet ups. Now they can have video chats in apps including Houseparty, Fam, Kik, Facebook Messenger, Tribe, Airtime and ooVoo. With Houseparty, teens can video chat with up to seven friends at the same time. They will leave the apps open for hours to chill out with their friends, thus the name live chilling.
Jan Odiaga, who studies how technology influences activity levels in young people, believes that teens have turned to live chilling as an adaptation to the world they live in, and the busy lives they maintain.
Live chilling is a perfect example of how technology can become a replacement for something in the real world and decrease the need to leave home.
Not only is iGen partying and hanging out less, they don't think alcohol is “cool.” A survey by Berenberg of 6,000 Americans age 16 to 22, found that iGen (born after 1996 and also known as GenZ) has an aversion to alcohol. They don't want to look drunk and wasted when they take selfies and post them on social media, partly as a result of seeing older Millennials showing themselves wasted on social media. Being hungover carries a stigma with their generational cohort.
Berenberg found this age cohort is drinking about 20% less than their Millennial counterparts and are expected to consume alcohol about 10% less per capita than Millennials did when they were between the ages of 18 and 19.
It's not only iGen who are drinking less alcohol or totally abstaining. Euromonitor has identified one the top 2018 trends to be Clean Lifers, “straight edge” consumers clustered around educated 20-somethings. They have strong beliefs and ideals and are less tolerant, more skeptical. Clean Lifers feel they can make a difference and they do it through their spending choices. This means more saying no to unhealthy habits, which includes saying no to alcohol or reducing their alcohol intake, often with low alcoholic drinks.
Clean Lifers also prefer to stay in and relax rather than go out to a nightclub. They see a night out at a club as expensive, short-lived and not particularly healthy or safe.
iGen and Clean Lifers are going out a lot less than previous generations. This has serious implications for all types of community leisure venues (CLVs). To get these younger generations out of their homes and into a CLV will now require a far higher quality, more attractive, Higher Fidelity experience than in the past. Now visiting a CLV will need to be worth a special trip, a worthy use of time and be shareworthy. And drinking alcohol at a CLV will have less appeal than for previous generations.