Teenage rebellion is a tale as old as time. But as we continue moving into an age where life is increasingly online, rebellion can look a little different than it used to.

Last year, The New York Times published an article on Luddite Teens; a group of kids who have turned the tech-clock all the way back to the era of flip phones in order to enjoy the conveniences of modern communication (and keep in touch with worried parents), while purposefully disengaging with their digital devices. Instead, these rebels read books in parks and, er, talk to each other.

The Luddites are not alone. Like minded TikTok sensation and college student Sammy Palazzolo went viral last year for championing the benefits of a night out with no smartphones. Instead, when she’s out with friends she relies solely on a flip phone, which she says is freeing and more fun.

In our opinion, the trend for tech-light teens owes its origin to two different, larger patterns of behaviour playing out right now. The first is the Y2K nostalgia that has been rearing its head for a few years; Gen Z is taking on the aesthetics of the millennium replete with pink Motorola Razrs. Like generations before them playing old records and taking polaroid photos, they’ve co-opted their parents’ tech and given it new life.

The second is a phenomenon that predates even the polaroid, teens are questioning the assumptions and rules that have become part of society. In the last decade and a half, smart phones have become interwoven into almost every aspect of our lives: from paying for our morning commute, to booking in a gym class, and even turning on our kettles and radios. As the first generation born into something close to constant connectivity, it only makes sense that the 2023 version of turning away from the status quo is turning off your smartphone.

For more on how Gen Z are renegotiating their relationships with tech, download our Gen Z report now.