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Avoiding the 'Real Monsters'

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Wednesday, 05 September 2012

Teens Are Online … and Mobile


“Hey man, I don't wanna rain on your parade, but we're not gonna last seventeen *hours!* Those things are gonna come in here just like they did before. And they're gonna come in here...”Hudson, “Alien,” 20th Century Fox, 1986

Perhaps the Boston-area English teacher’s commencement address a few months ago was right.

The graduates aren’t special or exceptional, just different.

They’re different significantly from him, from Gen X/Yers, boomers.

Helping them be different, better, more tolerant, less violent is one of the main reasons older generations are around.
In their constantly connected, open world, that’s one of the reasons parents have to take more than a passing interest in the kids. They should:

· Talk with kids about ways to use the internet and cell phones safely
  • Talk with them about ways to behave toward other people online or on the phone
  • Talk with pre-teens and teens about what they do on the internet
  • Talk with kids about what kinds of things should, should not be shared online or on a cell phone
  • Check to see what information is available online about their kids
  • Check their social network site profile
  • Check which websites your child visits
  • Friend their children on social media and in the real world
  • Use parental controls and tools to block, filter, monitor their online activities
  • Use parental controls to restrict, guide their phone use

Parents don’t want to scare their teens; they just want to warn them, or as Newt said, “My mommy always said there were no monsters - no real ones - but there are.” 

Just Checkin’ – While teens may feel it is intrusion, it’s important for parents to set online guidelines and then periodically check to ensure they are being followed. We’ve all heard the line “It’s for your own good.” but it really is. Source – Pew Research

Teens are fervent communicators.

You probably don’t remember that far back, but they’re somewhere between being a child and adult; and in our online world, they’re getting inputs, ideas from everywhere, everyone.

Today, they’re able to continually communicate with everyone who is important – and irrelevant – in their lives: friends and peers, parents, teachers, coaches, bosses, other adults and institutions.

They’re so good at this, there a lot of times we think Ripley was right, “I feel like kind of a fifth wheel around here.”

Do It All – Teens text, email, call and talk with little thought about the device they’re using. For them, it’s the device that is at hand. Source – Pew Research

The average 13- to 17-year-old spends 11.5 hours doing everything from instant messaging and visiting social networking sites to  shopping and listening to music.

Everyone Online – Teens and Millennials don’t know life before the Internet, so moving back and forth between the online and real world is seamless for them. They have helped other generations become accustomed to and comfortable with online connections and activity. Source – Pew Research

While a lot of folks say all of this online activity is bad for them – isolating them from the real world, research by OTX indicates they’re a  little more complex, more sophisticated, better founded than you might think.little more complex, more sophisticated, better founded than you might think.


Given a Choice – While older generations are concerned that teens and pre-tweens are isolating themselves too much from the world around them, teens seem to have a better foundation than you might think. They don’t constantly hide behind their mobile devices; but given a choice, they want to share personal contacts. Source - Forrester

Given the choice, teens prefer real friends to online friends, would rather date someone from school than someone from the Internet, like shopping in a store more than shopping online.

The big difference between them and “us” is that for us, being online usually means using our iPad or computer. For teens, being online simply means being online with the device they have, usually a mobile phone and increasingly, a smartphone according to Pew Research. Overall, 77 percent of teens have a cell phone.

Hello Out There A teen without a cellphone is a person being punished or unable to keep in touch with the world around them. We don’t know about you and yours, but our kids couldn’t imagine not having their mobile phone with them 24x7, including having it on the nightstand to grab…just in case. Source – Pew Research

Smartphones are gaining teen users. And they use them for everything.

According to Nielsen research, they used an average of 320 MB of data per month on their phones last quarter, an increase of 256 percent over last year.
Messaging is the centerpiece of mobile teen communications.

Their monthly exchanges (SMS and MMS) hit 3,417 per teen last quarter, which is roughly seven messages per waking hour (and you wondered why they didn’t call).

Actually, voice calls declined significantly with this group from an average of 685 minutes to 572 minutes.

It turns out, they prefer messaging to calling because:

  • It’s faster (22 percent)
  • It’s easier (21 percent)
  • It’s more fun (18 percent)
  • It’s more easily shared (15 percent)


Why Not Share – For teens, sharing information on the mobile web is like being there. This also presents a challenge because some things shouldn’t be shared and that includes not only personal information but also malware. Source - ARA
According to Pew Research, among the texting teens:
  • Half send 50 or more text messages a day, or 1,500 texts a month; and one in three send more than 100 texts a day, or more than 3,000 texts a month
  • 15 percent of teens who are texters send more than 200 texts a day, or more than 6,000 texts a month
  • Boys typically send and receive 30 texts a day; girls typically send and receive 80 messages per day
  • A substantial minority are not heavy texters – 22 percent of teen texters send and receive just 1-10 texts a day or 30-300 a month
In addition to messaging, they were busy with the mobile internet, social networking, email, app downloads and app usage.

The older crowd, which only understands the three-minute phone call, tends to agree with Burke, “Look, this whole station is basically a big fusion reactor.”

The most popular are taking and sharing pictures and playing music:
  • 83 percent use their phones to take pictures
  • 64 percent share pictures with others
  • 60 percent play music on their phones
  • 46 percent play games on their phones
  • 32 percent exchange videos on their phones
  • 31 percent exchange instant messages on their phones
  • 27 percent go online for general purposes on their phones
  • 23 percent access social network sites on their phones
  • 21 percent use email on their phones
  • 11 percent purchase things via their phones
Bishop saw all the things teens could do with their smartphones and said, “Not bad for a human.”

O.K., since teens were almost born online and they’re constantly available, it’s pretty easy for marketing folks to believe it’s a great/easy way for them to reach and influence teens.

Heck, having an exciting, “fun” social media location is an easy (and inexpensive) way to sell them. You know, an exciting place for them to gather and seduce them with great games, music, videos, closed communities. Sorry folks, they’re smarter than they look


Real Influences While marketers like to point to the number of friends and Likes they have on their sites, teens tend to use more traditional sources for information and assistance in making their purchasing decisions. Friends, family and reviews are more influential than social media sites. Source – Ketchum Global Research, Varsity

Instead of being able to quickly and easily influence them, it turns out that friends and peers are an important part of their research/buying experience.

As a matter of fact, teens get and give advice at high rate, so they wield a large influence over their peer groups.
That means all you have to do is find those teens out there that have a strong online presence.

You know, those who post videos to YouTube (the second-biggest social site according to the Ketchum study), develop a relationship and create offerings to help them share information/news and shop together online.

Sounds easy … like shooting the proverbial fish in a barrel.

Oh, we forgot to tell you to avoid the hot buttons that annoy teens: push marketing and treating them like children.

Burke – like your boss - will look at you and say, “I- You know I expected more from you - I thought you'd be smarter than this.”

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