Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Twitter is for Old Fogies, Teen Says
A 15-year-old London teenager is shaking up the staid business world with a report he wrote as an intern, called How Teenagers Consume Media. In the report, Matthew Robson describes a bizarro teenage world that, according to the London Times, is "a confusing place where the PC is a radio, the games console is a telephone, the mobile telephone is a stereo and text-message machine, the DVDs are pirate copies and no one uses Twitter." Some of Robson’s reasoning would make an economist, like the Morgan Stanley fogies who sponsored his internship, smile. Robson finds Twitter a waste, because he can send many texts to his friends for the same price as a single 140-character Twitter post. That teenagers have no money is also his basis for his use of other media, although many would argue that, at least in the US, teens have plenty of disposable income. Teens don’t go to movies once they have to pay full price, he says, and prefer to steal music and video from online sites such as Limewire. Robson’s view of telephonic communication is that it’s basically only good for conversing with the opposite sex. He chats with his friends mostly while playing video games like Call of Duty. According to the Times article, "You use a mobile phone if you want to talk to girls," he said, as "only about one in fifty girls plays computer games." Having raised three boys through their teen years, who are now 26, 22, and almost 20, much of what Robson says comes as no surprise. However, my kids and their friends differ quite a bit from Robson’s assertion that "Eight out of ten teenagers don’t buy music. It comes from limewire, blogs or torrents." Each of my sons owns a rather large legally-acquired library of DVDs and CDs. However, I have partially failed in getting them to understand the position and rights of content producers since they do preview music on free Websites and download TV shows. I believe that Robson’s view of cell phones, email, Twitter, and social networking in general will change as he enters the world of work, where such tools are increasingly more essential to the performance of a job. Nonetheless, expect huge changes in modes of communications over the next decade as current teens transition into the workplace. If you think you already live in a world where the pressure to be always-on and always-available is intense, just wait.