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'Hey, man, you're on your own'

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Monday, 07 March 2011

This has got to be the weirdest day of my life... well, so far.”Mikey, Look Who’s Talking, Tristar Pictures (1989)

The Generation Born Online is Changing Business Models

If you’re a parent, you have to wonder how a kid can start out knowing zip…zero…nada and in the blink of an eye, they’re rocket surgeons!

Our son was always handy for managing the VCR, but now that everything is online who cares?

Today’s youngsters – the iGen (interconnected) – don’t know what a VCR is or video tape!  They’re born wired…always on.

Instead of being propped up in front of a TV, they’re online.

It’s estimated that 40 percent of US children under 12 will go online at least monthly this year.

Nearly half will do so by 2015.

Online Sooner – Industry analysts are finding that teens and pre-teens are not only going online and being connected at an earlier age but they are also connected for longer periods of time.  The real and virtual worlds meld into their world.



Harris Interactive recently reported that 82 percent of the online users ages 10-12 spend at least an hour a couple of times a week.



That’s up from 75 percent the year before.



The increase for kids 8 and 9 was even more – 61 percent to 76 percent.



It’s estimated that nearly 12 million children under 12 will be watching videos online this year.



By 2015, 70 percent of them will be regularly downloading, streaming video.


Two-thirds of them will challenge their minds, improve their eye/hand coordination by going online to play games.


For the most part, the early age group goes online only when parents are supervising or software blocking/ restrictions have been preset.



Growing Up


As they get older, their online/wired experiences expand.



Mikey looked at his parents and said, “Hey, man, you're on your own.”



Social Networking – The younger generations find social networking – all types of it – a natural means of gathering information, entertainment as well as connecting/sharing with others.  It’s all just a few keystrokes away.  



More than 50 percent of the youngsters age 3-17 will visit the expanding number of virtual world sites regularly this year (up from 48 percent last year).



As they “age,” they venture out – school, movies, sleep-overs, the usual stuff.



That only leads to the next communications jump they just have to have…the mobile phone.



Parents and kids probably have more “discussions” over when they will get their own phone than when it’s time for them to have the keys to the car!


According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 66 percent of US children and teens ages 8 to 18 had a mobile phone last year.



Phone Creep – The combination of peer pressure for the younger generation and their “guilt” pressure on parents is making it possible for iGeners to get their mobile communications device earlier and earlier.  But there is considerable validity for parents to ensure youngsters have and use their phone for safety/security.  



The age you cave on getting a phone for your kid really depends on you, your significant other, the maturity of the child and the intangible of family security/wellbeing.



Regardless, the younger member of the group has all the answers:

-  Everyone has one

-  It will keep me safe

-  We’ll be able to be in touch all the time so you know what I’m doing, where I’m going,  who with



According to Pew Internet and American Life Project about 75 percent of the 12-17 year-olds have a mobile phone, up from 45 percent in 2004.



Your Reason, Their Reason


Most parents buy the phone for safety reasons so they can always reach the child.



Most youngsters use that same reasons they simply have to have a phone, but it’s a combination of peer pressure and the fact that mobile communications is an integral part of everyone’s social life.




Staying in Touch – While the young mobile phone user may use their phones more for “chatting’ with friends and peers, they also feel that the units are important for them to stay in touch with their parents and for use in case of an emergency.  



Pew found that half of the 12-17 year-olds sent 50 text messages, texting friends more than they talked to them on the phone or face-to-face.



The iGen is connected – constantly:

-- Nielsen reported that 32.9 million individuals (19 percent of the iNet U.S. population) under the age of 18 are active Internet users

-- Two-thirds of all U.S. teens have a mobile phone (MultiMedia Intelligence)

-- Greater percentage of U.S. teens have mobile phone than own a PC (Pew research)



And, they are always on the prowl for more connected devices.



Of course, Albert didn’t help when he said, “Here go play some video games.”


What’s Next – The younger folks have a clear idea of what they want/need next to enhance their “cool” factor and enrich their information gathering, entertainment time.  The iGeners learn early.


The iGen is at ease navigating between a growing number of communications options.


They move effortlessly between social nets, texting, IMing, video locations and virtual worlds.



They expect the transition to be completely seamless.



While we make a distinction between being online, offline and mobile, that simply isn’t part of their DNA.



Next Gen Interaction


This will have a profound effect on how they (and we) interact, work in the next few years.



Consider these Ipsos facts:

-- Today, there are 4.6 billion mobile users (67 percent of the world population).

-- 91 percent of the mobile users have their phones “close” 24x7.

-- There are 1.7 billion global Internet users.

-- By 2020, 80 percent of the world population (6 B) will have mobile phones.

-- 4.7B will have Internet access (primarily mobile devices).



We already see a move toward people using their personal devices at work for personal and business activities.



Social networks are now the way people stay in touch with friends, family, work groups, special interest groups.



Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites have become the catalyst for dramatic – often drastic – political and business changes.  



Executives are finding it difficult/impossible to determine how they can “manage” their organization’s information flow.  



The younger generation finds it is perfectly natural to pick and choose the information – valid or invalid – they want.


Digital information is exploding and spreading … everywhere!



While the industry is working to develop solutions that will secure/protect personal information, the iGen sees a greater benefit in transparency.



Laissez Faire


There’s less of a concern about privacy and personal data security.



Careful Transparency – With each new generation there is less of a concern about their public and private information and stronger understanding that they know how to protect their information and themselves.  Younger people understand that if you spend the majority of your time on social media, your information is out there already.  The key is to know how to manage and deal with the open environment. 


Marketers are looking for ways to use this information to reach, inform, influence consumers.



Realtime, personalized information regarding an individual’s presence, online status, physical location, preferred communication channels, friend networks, interests, passions, and shopping habits is readily available.



How to use it without producing an uncontrollable backlash is the goal for company marketers.



Mollie warned, “Cute is not a consideration.”



Managers are realizing that viral marketing and positive peer reviews produce far more success than traditional marketing.



The range of digital devices – smartphones, iPads, iPods, netbooks, laptops, PCs,  watches – continues to expand.  But they will be less important and will become interfacing tools, rather than business/personal status items.



While we’re still uncomfortable with it, iGeners are at ease using, relying with online services and data access/usage/storage.



Online Chasm


eMarketer reports that the average 65-year-old only spends 2-3 hours online a week; and in 10 years, this will increase to eight hours a week.



That’s still way below the iGener’s 15 hours a week online.



Digital communications is replacing yesterday’s need for physical interaction.



The challenge for parents and people developing/managing the systems and offerings is to keep pace with the iGeners.



Without the right infrastructure, they may respond as Mollie did, “I'm sure that you will understand that I am going through a destructive phase.”



iGeners already know the difference!


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