Today’s teenagers have never known a world without the internet, making them - apparently - the most informed and connected generation yet.

Most parents, though, are far removed from the bubble created by young people born between the late ‘90s and mid 2000s – often described as Generation Z. However, a new study commissioned by search engine Google has now given us a rare glimpse into the minds of our children.

The poll asked teens aged 13 to 17 to reveal what they think is cool – and the results provide an insight into the struggle between technology and RL (that means 'real life', grandpa).

The research also suggests young women and young men decide what’s cool in different ways.

Young women are more likely to base their perception of cool on how something makes them feel, while young men are persuaded by fads and friends.

Whatever way teens decide what is cool, it matters to parents who increasingly rely on Generation Z to make key life decisions for them.

A separate study commissioned by digital lifestyle brand, iCoolKid, has revealed that opinions held by under 18s are proving to be the biggest driver for adults when buying home tech, booking a holiday, or choosing which restaurant to dine in.

When parents were asked which things they most often turn to teens for guidance on, 79 per cent put booking a family holiday at the top of the list, saying they wouldn’t finalise a family trip without input from their children.

In second place was buying home tech products such as TVs, laptops or smartphones, with more than two thirds of respondents (68 per cent) indicating that they would seek advice from their teenagers on factors such as design, spec and brand.

Completing the top three line up was the slightly more everyday issue of choosing where to go for a meal, with 57 per cent of adults surveyed admitting that their teenagers would play an instrumental role in selecting where they went to eat.

When questioned on why they feel Generation Z is so influential, nearly a fifth of those polled (17 per cent) pointed to the fact that today’s teens are more confident in making decisions because they have a wealth of information available online.

Those surveyed also believe Generation Z can absorb information much faster than previous generations due to continuous consumption of news and entertainment through social media.

Three quarters (72 per cent) believe that this tech-led world has resulted in today’s teens being much more driven and decisive.

Carmen Greco, Co-Founder of iCoolKid Ltd, said: “We are witnessing an exciting seismic shift in generational influence and a rise in intuitive interaction within the eight to 15-year-old demographic.

“As a consequence, this age group have become more informed and are much more engaged with the digital world and the options available to them.

“Additionally, their daily media interaction has resulted in an increase in social outreach, a greater outspokenness, a sense of empowerment and greater depth of product knowledge.”

What kids think is cool


Despite the advent of tablets, smartphones remain the gadget of choice for young people. There’s almost an even split between the two main operating systems, with 42 per cent opting for iOS and 41 per cent going for Android phones. The survey found that almost ten per cent don’t use a smartphone, while the remaining seven per cent of those surveyed chose mobiles with lesser used operating systems, such as Windows.

Social Media

The coolest platforms are Snapchat and Instagram. Facebook is still used by some young people but many are shunning it because it’s seen as the platform for their parents and grandparents. The survey found that more young women than men use Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest, while Facebook and Twitter are primarily used by young men.


The most popular way to consume visual entertainment is no longer the television. The majority of young people are glued to Youtube, and some even have their own channel. Most teens also stream content through Netflix and other on demand services.


Today’s teens are obsessed with footwear. Almost 30 per cent of young people who were asked what is cool said ‘shoes’. To Gen Z, the top three coolest shoe brands are Jordan, Converse, and Vans.


According to the Google survey, most teens’ playlists would include contemporary artists as well as some old favourites probably enjoyed by their parents and grandparents. Among the artists mentioned were Drake, Beyonce, Twenty One Pilots, Fall Out Boy, Coldplay, Panic at the Disco and… The Beatles. But forget record players and CDs – it’s all on Spotify now.

Video games

The top games selected by young people were The Legend of Zelda, Call of Duty Black Ops, Grand Theft Auto, Pokemon and Minecraft. Teens said they liked escaping to virtual reality, but also connecting with friends online.


Generation Z may be the most advanced yet but they are still just hormone-laden teens with cravings for junk food. The most popular culinary choices, according to young people surveyed, are pizza, chips and ice cream.


Teens were asked to choose the coolest brands and number one was video streaming platform Youtube, with Netflix a close second. Google, which carried out the survey, was named as the third coolest brand. Also in the top ten is Xbox, Playstation, Doritos and Nike.