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Middle-age consumers less likely to have tech-free mealtimes at home than the young
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Middle-age consumers less likely to have tech-free mealtimes at home than the young

Only less a third of Belgians (30%) say their household mealtimes are technology-free, making them one of the most technology-obsessed countries at mealtimes around the world.

Fewer than half (43%) of Europeans say their household mealtimes are technology-free, but it’s middle-age diners who are most likely to involve some form of tech – such as TVs or smartphones – along with their food.  That’s according to Nielsen’s Global Generational Lifestyles report, released today, which surveyed 30,000 online respondents in 60 countries to better understand how consumer sentiment differs across life stage.

Although only 46% of Generation Z (15-20 year olds) and 43% of Millennials (21-34s) across Europe reported that domestic mealtimes are tech-free, even fewer people aged 35-64 said the same. The Silent Generation (65 years+) are the most likely to have tech-free mealtimes in their homes, but that’s still only the case for just over half this age group (52%).

“Millennials may have a reputation for being glued to their connected devices, but older respondents are more likely to be distracted in this way during mealtimes at home than their younger counterparts,” says Nielsen EVP of advertising solutions for Europe, Terrie Brennan. “It’s a sign that today’s consumers are bucking yesterday’s preconceived generational notions and, in fact, many older people are embracing a more technology-driven world.”

Myths around technology news sources

The report findings also question other myths around polarisation of the young and the old. Across Europe, the youngest and oldest generations – Generation Z and the Silent Generation – are equally as likely to cite newspaper websites (18%) as their preferred source of news, while the youngest are only a little more likely than the oldest to cite TV news websites (16% vs 14%) and search engines (26% vs 23%).

Differences do come around social media.  Generation Z (45%) is nearly six times as likely as the Silent Generation (8%) to cite social media as their preferred news source. In contrast, the oldest generation is more than twice as likely as the youngest to cite newspapers (38% vs 15%) and magazines (15% vs 7%).

Ms Brennan again: “Aside from social media and print, the age skew on some preferred news sources is not what you might think. While around two-thirds of Europeans over 50 turn to TV to get their news, TV is still a preferred news source for half of Generation Z and nearly half of Millennials (46%).”

Myths on leisure activities

Although Generation Z (20%) are 10 times more likely than the Silent Generation (2%) to use their spare time playing video games, the former aren’t technology obsessed. This youngest generation is more likely to spend its spare time in contact with family and friends (29%), playing sports (24%) and reading (23%) than it is to be playing video games or using social media (17%).

Brennan concludes: “Just as older people are increasingly embracing technology, sizeable numbers of younger people are turning to more traditional pastimes. For all of the differences between the generations, when it comes to using technology, in many ways it’s remarkable how similar we are.”