Nearly half of Gen Z lives a ‘double life’ online, report finds

New survey finds that nearly half of Gen Z lives a ‘double life’ online (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
New survey finds that nearly half of Gen Z lives a ‘double life’ online (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A new survey has found that nearly half of Gen Zers live a “double life” online.

In the research conducted by OnePoll, on behalf of computer company Lenovo, 2,000 Americans from different generations discussed some of their social media habits. The results showed that out of all the Gen Z respondents, 46 per cent of them claimed they live a “double life” online, with the feeling that their personalities in the real world are much different.

When asked if their online personas are a secret from their family, 31 per cent of Gen Z respondents said yes. They also shared their feelings about communicating online, with 53 per cent of Gen Zers saying it’s easier than talking in person.

Although nearly half of all respondents said they felt a disconnect between who they are online and in person, 68 per cent of those respondents were part of Gen Z.

Other generations confessed to similar habits online, with 38 per cent of millennials, 18 per cent of Gen Xers, and eight per cent of baby boomers claiming they live a “double life” on the internet. Meanwhile, 27 per cent of millennials also confessed to keeping who they are online a secret from their families.

Regarding whether they felt it was easier to have conversations online than offline, 49 per cent of millennials and 35 per cent of Gen X said it was. Meanwhile, only 23 per cent of baby boomers felt this way.

All respondents were also asked how open they are to sharing their opinions online. Results found that 21 per cent of them were comfortable with sharing their ambitions online instead of in person. Meanwhile, 19 percent said they felt comfortable sharing their fears or insecurities online, instead of offline, and 19 per cent said they were open about their political beliefs.

When compared to who they are offline, 20 per cent of respondents said their online personalities had clearer likes and dislikes. Some respondents also pointed out that their online persona has different lives and dislikes and more controversial opinions than who they are in person.

OnePoll’s survey is also on behalf of Lenovo’s work for its “Work for Humankind” project, called “Meet Your Digital”, which examines how one’s online persona is “different from who you can be in the real world”. For the experiment, Lenovo uses “cutting-edge AI and its full portfolio of smarter devices and solutions”.

“Lenovo brings two individual’s digital personas to life as interactive, 3D avatars, capable of having real conversations with loved ones,” the company’s website states. “This is how Lenovo is using technology to bring people together for good.”

This isn’t the first time there’s been a discussion about Gen Z’s habits with technology. Earlier this year, one user on X, formerly known as Twitter, Max Burns sparked a viral debate about the iPhone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature, with the claim that “Gen Z kids” keep it on all the time because “they never have to face the anxiety of answering the phone”.

Although some of Gen Z identified with the tweet, others disagreed, pointing out that they have their phone on “Do Not Disturb” – which silences all notifications – because they want to avoid spam calls.

However, phone call anxiety among Gen Z isn’t an unfounded theory. A 2023 study conducted by CommBank and More found that only one in 10 Gen Z Australians would prefer to talk to family or friends over the phone. And 87 per cent of participants in the study confessed to handling a conflict over text instead of with a phone call, with 49 per cent admitting that they feel anxious when talking on the phone.