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AI Is Disrupting Everything — But Gen Z Isn’t (Too) Afraid

There’s been no escaping all the headlines, conversations, and social media posts about the impending arrival of AI into our lives for the past few years. But now, that’s no longer the case. AI is fully here, and it’s transforming the way many people, especially younger generations, go about their academic, professional, personal lives. 

Gen Z’s thoughts on AI from even just a year ago don’t necessarily reflect how they feel now in 2024 — and for good reason: AI is advancing, and getting more mainstream, at what feels like a breakneck pace. Chatbots are getting smarter. Photo and video generators are creating more realistic content. Task assistants are becoming more widespread. And information on how to use all of these tools is more accessible than ever.

Understandably, these rapid changes have many people worried about the implications of these technological developments. (Case in point: This University of North Georgia student who was put on probation for using Grammarly to edit an assignment.) But Gen Z is adaptable to tech in ways other generations — yes, even the proud “digital native” Millennials — can’t even fathom. So, where do they stand? In January 2024, Her Campus surveyed 849 Gen Zers, 615 of whom are currently enrolled as college undergrads, about how they use, and feel about, AI. Here’s what they had to say.

How Many— & How Often — Gen Zers Are Using AI

AI’s presence among Gen Z is gargantuan: A staggering 97% of participants in Her Campus’s AI Survey said they’ve used AI at some point in their lives, with 77% saying they use it at least on a monthly basis.

Many survey respondents said they like AI because it saves them time and energy, and is easy to use. “The most exciting benefits of AI for me are its ability to streamline tasks, enhance decision-making processes, and create innovative solutions that can positively impact various aspects of our lives,” a Rutgers University marketing major said in the survey.

Another student, an apparel design and manufacturing major from Texas Tech University, said, “The potential it has seems endless. It’s evolving. It’s a playground for creatives.”

When it comes to what kind of AI tools participants use regularly, ChatGPT (58%) and Grammarly (49%) dominated. And while many Gen Zers are using AI for school and work — 76% and 55%, respectively (more on these numbers below) — they’re also using it for leisure, with 61% saying they use AI for hobbies or fun.

Regardless of how Gen Z is using AI in 2024, AI’s reach into the many facets of their lives is only going to expand going forward. While only 14% of participants said they currently use AI on a daily basis, 70% saying they’re at least somewhat open to it playing a daily role in their lives going forward.

AI In The Workforce

As Gen Z continues to come of age, the majority of participants said they feel optimistic about how AI will factor into their careers, with 58% of respondents believing it will have a positive impact on their professional lives. This is reflected in survey responses about job searches: 55% of participants are using AI to build resumes, while 48% are leveraging it to generate cover letters and prep for interviews, and 42% seek it out for help finding jobs that match their skills and interests.

However, more than 75% of the Gen Zers surveyed also admitted they have at least some fear about AI’s influence in the workplace. Most concerns surrounded the possibility of AI replacing humans and making some roles obsolete. “Given the state of the tech market, it scares me that there will be no jobs when my turn to enter the market comes,” an engineering major from USC said. 

Others said they were concerned AI could stifle creativity and originality, encourage complacency, and lead to more errors. As one biology major from Augustana College said, “AI could hurt just as much as it can help, which is scary.”

That said, with 69% of survey respondents not currently employed full-time (remember, even the oldest of Gen Zers are still only in their mid-20s), Gen Z might have very different opinions of AI as more of their generation enter the workforce.

AI In The Classroom

While AI’s impact on Gen Z’s work life might still largely be TBD, college students have a much firmer understanding of how it impacts their academics, with 73% saying AI tools are at least somewhat helpful in their college career. 

The majority of students surveyed use AI to edit and fine-tune their original work, with 72% saying they use seemingly innocuous spell check tools like Grammarly. However, 45% said they’ve used generative AI like ChatGPT for their assignments, which is where the confusion comes in for many schools and students. 

Of the students surveyed, 68% said their school has a policy about using generative AI for assignments, many of them with severe consequences. “I felt guilty even considering using AI; potentially getting caught is a big risk,” a communications major at Florida Atlantic University said. “If you are caught using AI to complete assignments, you will be put on academic probation or, in extreme cases, expelled.”

Of the students who have used generative AI in school, many shared anecdotes about using it for idea generation and outlining their papers, but not actually writing their assignments. Still, they shared worries about the AI detecting tools employed by schools not being able to tell the difference. (Not to mention, sometimes they’re wrong — 18% of participants said they’ve had an assignment falsely flagged for AI.)

“I am always worried that professors will see the use of AI as cheating and plagiarism, when in reality it is simply a helper/boost,” a recreation management major from the University of New Hampshire said in the survey. 

However, not all students are as worried. Of the students who have used generative AI for school, 41% said they were unconcerned or indifferent about doing it. Many survey respondents said they felt confident in their work because they weren’t using ChatGPT to cheat, but rather to improve their work. Some believed they could avoid being flagged for AI by fact-checking the generated text for accuracy and rewording to make it sound more human. 

Others still were more blasé about it all. 

“There is no difference for me,” an economics student at the Ethiraj College for Women said. “I used to copy from Google, now I am using AI.”

Lexi Williams is the Senior Editor at Her Campus, where she spearheads the site's Life and News coverage — including academics, national news, digital news, and viral news. She also oversees our Gen Leaders and Dream Jobs franchises, and works with the national writer team, interns, and freelance writers. Dedicating her career to helping college students, teens, and twentysomethings live their best lives, Lexi became obsessed with all things Gen Z through her previously held editorial positions at Elite Daily and Dorm Therapy. Before that, she dabbled in the food and wine space at Wine Spectator magazine, where she learned to balance her Champagne taste with her Two-Buck-Chuck budget. Lexi's bylines have also appeared in Cosmopolitan, InStyle, Bustle, StyleCaster, and Betches, among others. She graduated magna cum laude with her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Miami in 2016. Originally from Florida, Lexi currently lives with her husband in Brooklyn, New York, where she spends her days scouting the best pizza spots, working on her debut novel, perpetually redecorating her apartment, and taking too many photos of her yappy little rescue dog, Benji. For pitches, contact Lexi at lexiwilliams@hercampus.com. For a healthy dose of Millennial cringe, follow her on Instagram at @lexi___williams.