Millennials revealed as leisure-starved generation

Group of Millennials watching television. | Newsreel
Millennials have been revealed as the most leisure-starved generation as television viewing falls with each new population wave. | Photo: pixelfit (iStock)

New data on how Australians use their time has exploded some of the stereotypes around the habits of different generations.

Much has been written about Generation X (those born between 1966 and 1980) working long hours and holding the fort on the economy.

But when it comes to recreation starvation they are being edged out by the Millennials (people aged 25 to 39).

Australian Bureau of Statistics time-use figures, released today, also highlight the generation change in television viewing habits.

Thirty-seven percent of Generation Z (aged 15 to 24 years) reported watching no television, streaming services or online video when the survey was conducted in 2020-21.

In fact, the television habit fell with each generation. Around 96 percent of people over 75 still watched television on any given day, compared with baby boomers (86 percent), Generation X (73 percent) and Millennials (68 percent).

The “interwar” generation (75 years and over) spent the most time in a day watching TV and video at 3 hours and 43 minutes.

Generation Z had the highest proportion (22 percent) who participated in digital games in a day. This was double the next highest –  Millennials at 11 percent.

Across the population, an average of 17 percent of any given day was spent on recreation and leisure activities.

Millennials had the lowest allocation of leisure time at 13 percent followed by Generation X at 14 percent.

Baby boomers and Generation Z (born 1996 to 2005) both spent around 20 percent of their days on leisure and the largely retired interwar generation were the highest at 25 percent.

The ongoing loss of social capital in Australia remained evident, with all generations devoting barely five percent of their days to social and community interaction.

Across all of the generations, men tended to spend around 30 minutes more a day on leisure and recreation compared to women. The youngest age group (Generation Z) had the smallest disparity based on gender.

The survey produced some interesting insights on the reading habits across generations.

Nearly half of people aged 75 and over read every day but this fell as low as 12 percent for Generation X males.

As with television, reading seems to be declining with each generation and even Baby Boomers could only manage a 30 percent daily reading rate.

The figures highlighted some vastly different habits across Generation Z. Even though only a small proportion of this group picked up a book, when they did they spent the most time of any group at two hours and six minutes (and 40 minutes more than that for males).