Gen Z embraces Generative AI innovations, exploring new frontiers of technology and creativity
The landscape of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) adoption in the U.K. is being distinctly shaped by the tech-savvy Gen Z, as indicated by a recent study from media regulator Ofcom. The Ofcom Online Nation 2023 report reveals that teenagers and children are the driving force behind the growing utilization of GenAI, emphasizing a shift toward early adoption within this demographic.
The study highlights the prevalence of GenAI use among online teenagers aged 13-17, with a significant 79 percent employing Generative AI tools and services. Notably, even a substantial minority of younger children aged 7-12, around 40 percent, are actively embracing this technology. In contrast, adult internet users aged 16 and above exhibit comparatively lower enthusiasm, with 31 percent engaging with Generative AI.
Despite the increasing adoption, the study notes that 69 percent of respondents claim to have never used Generative AI. Among this group, 24 percent express a lack of understanding about what Generative AI entails. Ofcom defines Generative AI broadly as “algorithms that can create new content, including text, images, video, and code, in response to a prompt.”
Snapchat’s My AI emerges as the most popular Generative AI tool among children and teens in the U.K., utilized by 51 percent of online 7–17-year-olds. Particularly, online teenage girls stand out as the most avid users, with a substantial 75 percent engagement rate.
ChatGPT, on the other hand, claims the top spot as the most widely used Generative AI service among internet users aged 16 and above, reaching 23 percent of that group. Interestingly, among online youngsters aged 7-17, boys exhibit a higher enthusiasm for ChatGPT, with a usage rate of 34 percent compared to girls’ 14 percent.
The study sheds light on the various ways Brits engage with Generative AI. For 58 percent, the primary use is for recreational purposes, emphasizing the element of fun. A significant portion, 33 percent, incorporates Generative AI into their work, showcasing its practical applications. Additionally, 25 percent turn to Generative AI for assistance with their studies.
The activities involving Generative AI include chatting and exploring capabilities (48 percent), finding information or content (36 percent), and seeking advice (22 percent). Creativity also plays a role, with individuals using Generative AI for tasks such as devising text, creating images, and making videos, and audio.
Despite the positive reception, Ofcom’s study highlights a considerable awareness of potential risks associated with Generative AI. Approximately 58 percent express concerns about its future impact on society. Notably, among online 16–24-year-olds, who are the most prolific users of Generative AI, 67 percent share apprehensions about its societal implications.
Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s group director, of strategy and research, comments on the findings, stating, “Getting rapidly up to speed with new technology comes as second nature to Gen Z, and Generative AI is no exception. While children and teens are driving its early adoption, we’re also seeing older internet users exploring its capabilities, both for work and for leisure.”
It also emphasizes Ofcom’s commitment to understanding the opportunities and risks of emerging technologies, especially in the context of online safety. As the online safety regulator, Ofcom aims to facilitate innovation while safeguarding users from potential harm, especially considering the concerns raised by a significant portion of the population regarding the societal implications of Generative AI.