College semesters spent at home. Canceled proms and graduations. First jobs lost. The rites of passage for teenagers and young adults are suddenly on hold—on top of their fear for the health and economic livelihoods of their loved ones—making the COVID-19 crisis a particularly confusing and fraught time for Gen Z. To support its more than 5 million global members aged 13-25, DoSomething.org, the largest organization for young people and social change, has launched a COVID-19 resource to help young people stay healthy, fight anxiety, take action, and share their opinions and concerns about the crisis.
DoSomething.org’s COVID-19 resource page contains up-to-date information, support for displaced students, and opportunities to submit tips for social distancing or partake in relevant campaigns like helping isolated older adults use video chat.
“This is an unprecedented time for our entire country and it is impacting Gen Z in a very unique way. Despite the fact that they are considered digital natives, young people still very much value and crave in-person connection with friends and family,” said Meredith Ferguson, Managing Director, DoSomething Strategic, the social impact consultancy arm of DoSomething.org. “This is already a generation experiencing a crisis of loneliness—and the realities of COVID-19 are hitting them hard. We want to provide young people with an outlet to stay informed and connected, and also ensure their voice is heard.”
In addition, DoSomething has been surveying its members since March 18, with questions updated weekly to allow them to voice their concerns about the crisis and share their opinions about everything from government and brand response to media intake and how they’re staying connected with their friends.
Key findings from the first three surveys, with more than 8,000 responses collected:
- Far from indifferent, Gen Z’s concern is only growing. 91% of Gen Z is concerned about COVID-19, with 40% sharing they are very concerned, up 6 percentage points since March 18th. When we initially asked how they were feeling about the outbreak, the top answers were frustrated (54%), nervous (49.3%), and disconnected (40%). Three weeks later, 63% report feeling frustrated, 54.2% report feeling sad, and 50.2% report feeling nervous.
- IRL connection matters, and is missed. Despite an increase in using the many technology tools at their fingertips—particularly video conferencing platforms like FaceTime and Zoom—young people are deeply missing being able to hang out with their friends in-person. Feeling disconnected has grown from 40% to 47.9% over three weeks.
- Brands need to put employees first. Taking care of your employees is overwhelmingly top of mind for Gen Z, who is without a doubt paying attention and particularly concerned about the financial impact of this crisis. When asked what is the role of brands in light of COVID-19, the top two answers were ensure employee and consumer safety (74.7%) and protect employees financially (72.7%). Retail stores such as Apple, Walmart, Starbucks, Disney and Nike all received top mentions for closing down or adapting their hours while keeping employees on payroll.
Every Wednesday, new questions are added—upcoming surveys will focus on the most trusted sources for information for young people and how they’re consuming content, the best examples of digital communities and the top apps and platforms for making quarantine more bearable. Survey results will be updated and can be found at the following website: Gen Z’s Thoughts on COVID-19.