Playing A Digitalization-Focused Word Association Game With Gen Z

I don’t know about you, but I love a good word association game. I believe that word association games serves as a simple yet powerful tool to extract information and understand the thought process of an individual. Therefore, I decided that it would both be fun and informative to create a digital-focused word association game in order to reveal the underlying mentality of Gen Z when it comes to digitalization. Moreover, I split the game into three different levels, each of which builds upon the previous tier. I decided to play this game with three of my Gen Z friends (over social distance of course), in order to obtain the results, and each friend was assigned to one level. Upon the conclusion of each level, I will provide a short summary of the results and a brief explanation. Hopefully, this game will reveal how us Gen Z-ers think about digitalization, and provide this information in a more interesting, fun, and easily comprehensible way. Before we dive in, I do disclose that this is not by any means a perfect experiment, and I do not deny the possibility of experimental bias due to the small sample size. This is simply meant to be a fun exercise. Without further ado, let the games begin!

First Level

IT --> IoT

App --> AI

Computer --> Smartphone

To kick off the game, I decided to choose three words that are digital related: IT, app, and computer. The results of this level indicate that a Gen Z-er is likely to associate IT (Information Technology) with IoT (Internet of Things), is likely to link the word App with AI, and Computer with Smartphone. But why? Let’s try to provide an explanation. First of all, IT and IoT are related in terms of providing a sort of technological infrastructure but aren’t exactly equivalent. I would say that the letters “IT” played a big influence in this outcome. Now, moving on to the word App. Nowadays, many Gen Z-ers expect the latest and greatest apps to contain some form of artificial intelligence, whether this AI comes in the form of content recommendation systems or photo recognition systems. Lastly, associating the word Computer to Smartphone means that Gen Z strongly believes that laptops are largely replaceable by Smartphones, and shows how important mobile phones are to everyday life in the digital world.

Second Level

IoT --> Smart Home

AI -->Machine Learning

Smartphone --> HQ

Building upon level one, now we see that the word IoT is paired with Smart Home, AI is paired with Machine Learning, and Smartphone is associated with an HQ. The linkage between IoT and Smart Home is fairly clear, as this is one of the goals that digital transformation promises to execute. Next, we have AI and Machine Learning, which is also straight to the point and requires little explanation. Clearly, Gen Z-ers know some form of basic artificial intelligence terminology. Last but not least, we have Smartphone linked to the word HQ. Following up on what I explained in level one, this word association makes it entirely evident that Gen Z cannot imagine a world in which smartphones are not with them 24/7. This also sheds light on the importance of a constant data information flow in the setting of the digital world.

Third Level

Smart Home --> Smart “Objects” (i.e–thermostat, kitchen, shower)

Machine Learning --> Algorithm

HQ --> Personal Data

The third and final level sees the pairings of Smart Home and Smart “Objects,” the linkage of the word Machine Learning to Algorithm, and associating the word HQ with Personal Data. The first of these associations is very clear: a Smart Home will be built with integrated Smart Objects/infrastructure. Moving onto Machine Learning, this word is associated with the word Algorithm, which is also not surprising. However, this word could have also been linked to Deep Learning or Responsible AI or Explainable AI. This shows that the typical Gen Z-er probably lacks knowledge about more comprehensive AI paradigms. Lastly, the association between HQ and Personal Data means that Gen Z understand that its “Digital ID” will be instrumental in defining a human-centric digital future.

To Conclude

This word association game was a fun, easy, and powerful way to understand the underlying Gen Z thought process on digitalization. More games like this to come in the future!

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