Millennials Turn to Mobile Devices for Moments of ‘Micro-Leisure’

A recent report points to a "leisure paradox" wherein millennials are worried about spending too much time on their smartphones but feel mobile technology enables momentary escapes from their busy lives.

There’s plenty of evidence to support the reality that millennials don’t consume the same way generations before did. They own fewer cars, prefer living in urban centers, and value sustainability. Millennials also love technology and are a big contributor to the mobile explosion around the world.

It turns out millennials also have a different idea of leisure. According to a report commissioned by digital marketing agency MRY, our hyper-connected digital world has given rise to “micro-leisure.”

Rather than leisure “defined by long summer vacations and 5 o’clock happy hours,” millennials turn to their smartphones for small moments of escape from their busy lives.


MRY commissioned first party market research of 820 working smartphone owners, conducted a series of discussion groups as well as an audit of the current research on millennial leisure habits. The research revealed that half of the millennial generation is worried about spending too much time on their smartphones, while only 32 percent of Gen-Xers expressed the same concern.

According to the report:

One would think these digital natives are better equipped to navigate our modern onslaught of swipes, beeps and buzzes, but the reality is quite the opposite. Their guilt and stress suggests a generational schism: a younger group grappling with the push and pull, and an older group better able to rise above it.

This assertion is supported by findings that point to millennials turning to their smartphones for entertainment, while more Gen-Xers seem to be able to resist the constant mobile distraction. Still, 60 percent of millennials believe their smartphones enhance their leisure time and ultimately, they’re conflicted about the place of mobile technology in their lives.


The report refers to this conflict as the “leisure paradox,” wherein millennials worry about being distracted by their mobile devices, but also more feel productive as well. While 48 percent of millennials are worried about spending too much time on their smartphones, they also feel their mobile devices enhance their leisure time. Likewise, 46 percent of millennials worry that mobile devices make it harder to disconnect from work, but 51 percent say the same devices are a source of relief during a busy work day.

For brands this means the end of the “golden hour” and the rise of the “millennial grind,” characterized by short bursts of smartphone-powered leisure entertainment. The report points to key “inflection points,” during which brands can help facilitate “micro-leisure” through micro-messaging, authentic real-time digital communication, and mobile first design.

Mobile inflection pointsTop image courtesy of Shutterstock.