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Gaming fast becoming the new social for Generation Alpha

Gaming is emerging as a core channel for youth engagement, according to TotallyAwesome's annual Youth-First Digital Insights research, which has found social via gaming is fast becoming the choice for Gen Alpha (ages 4 - 18).  

According to the research, Gen Alpha's use of social media has declined an average of 8% over the past 12 months and they are instead turning to gaming platforms to socialise. The report notes 50% of teens now game so they can play with their friends and 46% game because it makes them feel more connected with their friends.

TotallyAwesome's annual Youth-First Digital Insights study also reveals the impact gaming has on Gen Z and Gen Alphas mental health and their engagement in their community, showcasing the significant opportunity for brands and marketers to engage with this often-elusive audience.

According to Alice Almeida, Regional Head of Data, Research and Insights at TotallyAwesome, the research indicates if brands want to secure long-term loyalty with the next generation of customers they must be brave. 

"If you want to capture the hearts and minds of youth and build meaningful and long-lasting relationships you need to get into gaming. Its their now and their future," says Almeida.

"Our hope is that marketers and media agencies will use the rich insights and learnings from this research to connect with youth in a safe, relevant, and effective way," she says.

Other key findings from TotallyAwesome's Youth-First Digital Insights study include:

  • 37% of Gen Alpha and 33% Gen Z youth across Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) are now turning to gaming when feeling anxious or stressed.
  • Gaming is now broadly gender agnostic especially amongst Gen Alpha, where 46% of girls use gaming to relieve anxiety, while boys sit at 54%.
  • 84% of Gen Z in ANZ said they play games on devices such as smartphones, gaming consoles, or computers. This presents a huge opportunity for brands in the in-game advertising space, especially for those who can authentically engage this group of gamers.
  • Instagram (74%), Facebook (67%), YouTube (60%) and Snapchat (56%) are the preferred platforms for ANZ Gen Z. Twitch (14%), Twitter (21%) and WhatsApp (27%) were less popular. 
  • ANZ Gen Z are most likely to act after seeing a sponsored ad in a gaming environment, with 54% either looking it up online, talking with friends about it or buying whatever was advertised.
  • ANZ Gen Z demand more from brands and advertising, with 51% shopping with brands that align with their own core values
  • The level of awareness and usage of ChatGPT by ANZ Gen Z is the lowest in APAC, with more males than females using it.  Most Gen Z in ANZ are using it for fun or entertainment, while in North Asia its mainly used for work or academic purposes.
  • Gen Z are a tech-savvy generation but they like shopping in physical stores just as much as online

Will Anstee, TotallyAwesome's Executive Chairman, adds, "Our Youth-first Digital Insights underscores the gaming industry's profound influence on Gen Z and Gen Alpha. 

"When it comes to forging a sense of community and self-expression, young people are increasingly looking to gaming as the most important space for social bonding," he says. 

"Gaming is no longer just gaming – it's their new social."

Anstee says the company's research shows that parents are more digitally literate than ever and are increasingly concerned with cyberbullying, highlighting a demand for safe online environments that provide an outlet for positive play. 

"Brands need to be brave and step into gaming in a way that considers the myriad concerns and needs youth have," he says. 

"These rich insights help Brands and media agencies alike to gain a better understanding of young peoples appetites and how best to support their passions."

This is the eighth year that TotallyAwesome has conducted its Youth-first Digital Insights research in 14 markets across APAC, providing a deep understanding of the attitudes and behaviours of youth across Asia Pacific. The research, conducted through PureProfile panels, engaged with 9000 Gen Z and Gen Alpha and over 5000 of their parents across APAC, with more than 1200 of those based in ANZ.

The results will be presented in full at a live and free webinar on Thursday 24th August at 2pm AEST. 

TotallyAwesome's Youth-first Digital Insights highlights the impact of these nascent trends on advertisers in the region. APAC is the world's largest gaming market, with total revenues exceeding $84 billion USD in 2022, and there is a huge opportunity to unlock value across the market by reaching these consumers with considered advertising strategies that resonate with Gen Z and Gen Alpha youth demographics.

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