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Gen Z driving early adoption of Gen AI, our latest research shows

Published: 28 November 2023
Last updated: 28 November 2023

Teenagers and children in the UK are far more likely than adults to have embraced generative artificial intelligence (AI) according to Ofcom’s latest study into the nation’s online lives.

Generative AI broadly refers to algorithms that can create new content including text, images, video and code in response to a prompt. Services include ChatGPT, Snapchat My AI, Midjourney or Bing chat and DALL-E.

Four in five (79%) online teenagers aged 13-17 now use generative AI tools and services, with a significant minority of younger children aged 7-12 also adopting the technology (40%).

Adult internet users aged 16 and above are, on average, comparatively more reluctant users of generative AI (31%). Among those who have never used this technology (69%), nearly one in four have no idea what it is (24%).

Snapchat My AI - which became freely available to all Snap users in April 2023 - is the most popular generative AI tool among children and teens, used by half (51%) of online 7–17-year-olds. Online teenage girls are its most avid users (75%).

ChatGPT is the most widely used generative AI service among internet users aged 16 and above (23%). Among online youngsters aged 7-17, boys are keener users of ChatGPT than girls (34% versus 14%).

Deep learning curve

Internet users aged 16+ are finding their way around this nascent technology. Most simply use generative AI for fun (58%), a third use it for work (33%) while a quarter (25%) turn to it for help with their studies.

Chatting and exploring the capabilities of generative AI are the most popular activities (48%), followed by finding information or content (36%) and seeking advice (22%).

People are also using generative AI for creative tasks including devising text, for example poetry or lyrics (20%), creating images (20%), making videos (9%) and audio (4%). One in ten (11%) use it for coding.

But internet users are also conscious of the potential risks of generative AI, with over half (58%) concerned about its future impact on society. Interestingly, the most prolific users of generative AI among this broader group – the online 16–24-year-olds - are also most likely to be worried about its societal implications (67%).

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.

We also recognise that some people are concerned about what AI means for the future. As online safety regulator, we’re already working to build an in-depth understanding of the opportunities and risks of new and emerging technologies, so that innovation can thrive, while the safety of users is protected.

Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s Group Director, Strategy and Research

Some tech firms are developing and integrating tools which will fall into scope of the new Online Safety laws. So we’ll be looking at how these companies are proactively assessing the safety risks of their products and implementing effective mitigations to protect users from potential harms.

We’re continuing to monitor broader market developments and new technologies that emerge, including generative AI tools and services, to better understand the opportunities and risks surrounding them.

Read about some more trends from our Online Nation research.

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