Refuel Agency Finds that Over Half of Gen Z Teens Are Texting or Playing Mobile Games While at School

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Youth marketing specialist Refuel Agency presents proprietary study on Gen Z teenagers and their digital lifestyles.

Today, Refuel Agency, a leader in Youth, Military and Multicultural marketing and media placement, has released findings from its new Gen Z Teen Digital Explorer survey. The survey explores topics such as digital usage, tech ownership, purchasing habits, media perceptions and more.

Gen Z Teen Digital Explorer is one of five studies reported this year by Refuel Agency, the youth and millennial insights expert. Refuel Agency’s flagship College Explorer, now in its 15th year, continues to be the largest and most comprehensive college study available today.    

Gen Z teens (ages 13-15) are arguably the “tip of the spear” when it comes to digital technology and social networking. These product and brand influencers, raised in the era of smartphones, do not know a world without social media. Although similar to their older millennial teen counterparts in many ways, some fascinating and important differences do exist when it comes to consuming technology and projecting future trends.

This report dives into these differences as well as their digital preferences. Most interestingly for marketers, the findings indicate a very strong and receptive appetite for digital advertising. “Gen Z teens are connected 17 hours per day. This stat proves once again that it is vitally important for brands and marketers to understand how and where they spend their time and what makes this generation take notice in an oversaturated digital world,” says Derek White, President and CEO of Refuel Agency. “With over $88 billion spent annually by the youth market today, this key demographic group cannot be overlooked.”


  •     Total time spent with tech devices is on par with older teens at 17 hours, though they do spend more time with tablets and MP3 players
  •     Compared to older teens, they are more likely to try out new apps. In fact, they are more likely to try out 7 or more new apps per month
  •     Instagram and Kik are the clear leaders of messaging for this demographic
  •     Apple, Samsung and Google are the top tech brands Gen Z teens say they cannot live without
  •     They prefer to spend their money on electronics instead of key necessities such as clothing, personal care items, food, and entertainment
  •     2 in 5 are influential in electronic purchasing decisions
  •     They pay most attention to online video and mobile banner ads; 65% have taken action after seeing a mobile ad
  •     1 in 3 are interested in ads for new technology products


Refuel Agency is a leading marketing firm connecting a wide range of brands with niche consumer segments through scalable and impactful media and promotional solutions including social, mobile, print, place-based and experiential. With decades of expertise serving youth, military, multicultural and local audiences, Refuel Agency deploys brand campaigns utilizing unique proprietary networks including the Teen Ad Network (TAN), College Ad Network (CAN), Military Ad Network (MAN), and Diversity Ad Network (DAN), that speak to these consumers in their world, throughout their day. The business was formerly a central division of Alloy Media + Marketing. Refuel Agency has locations nationwide, with headquarters in New York City, and offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, CA, and Princeton, NJ.

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Alison Holmes
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