Friday, July 17, 2009

London Teen Gives Insight in Teen Media Usage

Posted by Amanda Walsh

This article in the NYTimes caught my attention and I wanted to share it with ThePRLawyer crowd. A fifteen-year-old Morgan Stanley intern working in London wrote a report about teenage media use today. The report titled “How Teenagers Consume Media,” written by Matthew Robson has caused quite a stir around the world and was originally covered in the UK newspaper, The Guardian.

The report is compiled of observations and experiences of being a teenager today and does not claim to be statistically based. Robson says teenagers are willing and excited to try new media but will not pay to use services. This is an interesting report as it is a first hand commentary from the sometimes mysterious teenage world. In general, I think this can be applied to teenagers across the world. However, I agree and disagree with some of his following points.

About Traditional Media (TV, Newspapers and Radio): According to Robson, teenagers that he knows in England do not read newspapers. Many would rather go on the Internet or watch TV because he says these outlets do a much better job of summarizing news. Web sites with free listening advertisements such as Last.fm are gaining popularity over radio. Online gaming or consoles such as the Nintendo Wii are also huge with his friends.

I feel that online news is the most popular news feed method, with TV coming in second and newspapers third. As a PR professional, I consult all of these outlets for my news and still enjoy reading the newspaper when I have time.

As far as Robson’s mention of gaming hobbies, I agree that gaming is popular with teenage boys – not just the UK but in the USA and most likely around the world. Speaking from personal experience, I wasn’t addicted to these types of games like some of my college guy friends.

I know that I have become a big fan of the Web site Pandora, which is (right now) a free music service that creates personalized playlists of music you love. After studying abroad in England two years ago, I was actually surprised at the amount of people I met that listen to the radio. I feel that there is a big difference in the English and American cultures when it comes to listening to the radio. Personally, the only time I listen to the radio is when I’m traveling in my car but many of my English friends are loyal fans of their radio shows.

About Twitter: Robson claims that “teenagers do not use Twitter.” Especially because tweeting from a cell phone would use ‘pay as you go’ credit that teens would rather use to text directly with friends.

I am a fan of Twitter but I can understand why many teenagers may not be hooked like I am. I use it specifically to learn more about public relations, marketing and communications social media tactics from professionals around the world. I think it is a great tool to connect, learn and exchange information. Perhaps teenagers do not have a specific purpose for using Twitter and are therefore less interested in the social media tool.

About Not Paying for Internet Services: Robson talks about how teens are reluctant to pay for Internet services. I think this claim can be applied to many demographic groups, not just the teenage crowd. Unless you absolutely love an online service and find it crucial to living or working, I believe many people are not inclined to pay for it. If one Web site begins to charge users, three more will probably be created offering the same services for free. The Internet is a free market where one can find MANY options for their needs.

Robson also notes that teens are spending money on “cinema, concerts and video game consoles.” Some responses from other teens in the UK can be found here and these teens claim that newspapers are still a valuable news resource and that free music Web sites are popular but CDs are still being bought. And overall they feel that the computer and Internet are still king for information, music and connecting with friends.

To read more about this story, check out these links: The Guardian article and the report in the NYTimes.com.

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