Gen Z is among the generations most concerned with climate change. In fact, a Pew Research report found that 76% of US Gen Zers consider climate change to be one of their biggest concerns, and 37% say it is their top concern.

This concern for our planet’s future is having a direct impact on mental health, making this generation feeling extreme anxiety and a sense of doom. Many I speak with in coaching, are hiding behind their digital devices in order to escape these fears of climate change’s impact.

Given their concern for the planet, it’s essential for young people to understand the significant carbon footprint associated with the production and use of the technologies they use daily and their implications for our planet’s health. Gen Z can reduce their fears by becoming more proactive instead.

A carbon footprint is calculated by the total amount of greenhouse gases that are generated by one’s actions. Presently, the average US citizen creates sixteen tons of these gases annually. Globally, the use is just four tons. These greenhouse gases contribute to the rise in global temperatures. In order to prevent another two degree rise, we need to decrease the annual amount to just two tons by the year 2050. Lowering our carbon footprint will take considerable effort.

The gaming industry has been slow to acknowledge that developing and playing video games uses a lot of energy and generates emissions responsible for climate change. A researcher revealed the gaming industry’s carbon footprint, standing at over 81 million tonnes of emissions in 2022. 

The production and operation of screens and gaming devices contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, resource depletion, and electronic waste. The manufacturing process involves the extraction of raw materials, such as metals and plastics, which often requires energy-intensive processes and can result in environmental degradation. Additionally, the energy consumption associated with charging and operating these devices, as well as the infrastructure required to support internet connectivity, further contributes to carbon emissions.

Dr. Benjamin Abraham, a digital games researcher and founder of AfterClimate, estimates that the $180+ billion video game industry consumes energy and produces carbon emissions comparable to the global film industry. 

Tencent, Microsoft, Apple, Sony, and Google account for the majority of the total emissions. Microsoft estimates that the average gamer using a high-performance gaming device emits 72 kilograms of CO2 per year.

The 2023 snapshot suggests that video game companies are still not up to the standards of disclosing their emissions data as shown above.

Legislation isn’t the best solution, as it can take years to pass or be stonewalled, but there also hasn’t been much of a push for video game companies to agree on industry wide emissions rules, either voluntary or mandated. 

The video game industry can also take the lead by making content that educates players; content that motivates them to take action and adopt pro-environmental behaviours.

And it’s not just the gaming world raising carbon emissions. Social media, which many gamers are also using has their own share of responsibility.

Research shows that scrolling on TikTok takes the top spot in terms of carbon emissions, followed closely by Reddit, Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat. 

Social media isn’t just about carbon footprints; it also fosters a never-ending cycle of consumerism. Targeted ads and influencer endorsements constantly push us to buy things we may not even need, leading to unsustainable levels of production, shipping, and waste.

Many brands that advertise on social media use low-quality and unethically-sourced materials, resulting in products with shorter lifespans. This further exacerbates our environmental impact.

As stewards of the planet’s future, young people have a critical role to play in addressing the environmental impact of screens and video gaming. By raising awareness and advocating for sustainable practices, they can help reduce the carbon footprint associated with these technologies. 

Here are some suggestions parents can share with their gamer to create more awareness to reduce not only their environmental anxieties, but also their time spent on their screens.

Take the time to learn about the environmental impact of screens and gaming devices, including their production, energy consumption, and electronic waste.

Practice responsible consumption by extending the lifespan of your devices, recycling old electronics, and minimizing electronic waste. Consider purchasing refurbished or second-hand devices instead of always opting for new ones.

Turn off screens and gaming devices when not in use, enable power-saving features, and consider using energy-efficient models.

Choose products from companies that prioritize sustainability and environmental responsibility in their manufacturing processes. Look for certifications such as ENERGY STAR and EPEAT when purchasing electronics.

Foster a culture of digital literacy that emphasizes responsible and mindful use of technology, with fewer hours of screen use and more in-person interactions. Encourage critical thinking about the environmental and social impacts of digital consumption.

Individually, these actions may seem small, but collectively, they can make a significant difference in reducing the carbon footprint of screens and video gaming. By educating themselves, practicing responsible consumption, and advocating for sustainable practices, they can contribute to reducing carbon emissions and protecting the planet for future generations. 

References cited:,kilograms%20of%20CO2%20per%20year,33%20miles%20in%20a%20car.