Kids Think Self-Driving Cars are Cool, But Costly

Kids Think Self-Driving Cars are Cool, But Costly

With the Internet of Things permeating much our daily lives and technology continually pushing into new territory, it’s just a matter of time before self-driving cars become a widespread reality. Now, however, is the time for car companies and tech firms to lay the groundwork with young drivers, as they’re the ones who will be the most likely benefactors of tomorrow’s tech.

There are plenty of open questions about autonomous cars, but in a time when today’s youths eat, sleep and breathe all things digital, it’s worth exploring youth sentiment around this buzzed-about topic in the auto world. As with many of today’s cool gadgets, price is a consideration where self-driving cars are concerned. In fact, a recent Nielsen study found that the majority of youths 8-18 (56.7%) think they will come with hefty price tags, which will put them out of reach for the general public.

High expense or not, more than two-in-five youths 8-18 believe self-driving vehicles are the future of driving, with middle school students having the strongest belief in this sentiment. In line with that thinking, autonomous cars represent the ultimate tech experience when it comes to travel, and many kids see them as “insanely cool.” In fact just over 38% of youths 8-18 perceive self-driving cars as “insanely cool. On the flipside, there are also those who think self-driving cars will either take the fun out of driving or are completely unnecessary.


While there are those consumers who may not be ready to relinquish the wheel, there are plenty who seem ready and willing. And that means some have big plans for the extra time they’ll have when they don’t have to worry about navigating the roads themselves. Interestingly, however, nearly four-in-10 youth drivers said they still would pay attention to the road even if they didn’t have to. Eating, talking to friends on the phone and watching video content are the top activities among young drivers opting to let their cars do the driving.

Even though self-driving cars would allow riders to spend their travel time doing something other than manning the wheel, high schoolers don’t have to wait for autonomous cars to enjoy their favorite free time activity while traveling. According to Nielsen’s Global Generational Lifestyles report, 37% of Gen Z said listening to music was their favorite free time activity, followed by reading and watching TV.

While the Global Generational research was not specific to time spent in a vehicle, it does indicate that having a vehicle that can drive itself won’t afford these driving age youths any greater opportunity to engage in their most preferred spare-time activity.

For additional insights, download the What’s Driving Tomorrow’s Drivers report.