A few weeks ago Morgan Stanley got a heap of coverage on the back of a note written by a 15-year old intern about how teenagers consume media. The city was apparently rocked to discover that teenagers shun the broadsheets, listen to a lot of music (shockingly they do this whilst doing other things) and couldn’t care less about Twitter. Last week, a blog on the Telegraph discussed the greying of social media, again with Twitter taking centre stage.

As part of a client campaign on teen tribes, we polled 3,626 of their users on their shiny digital teen lifestyles. We know what teens do online but we wanted to know why.

So what makes them join a social network or virtual work? The resounding answer is the ability to create and join different social groups, or as one teen puts it, “To have fun making groups for other skaters, emos or anything else.” Another informs us as to why this is important, “You need to know who and how many people are in the tribe.”

Stereotypical teenagers are often seen as grumpy, miserable, loud, rude and obnoxious but the results that we’ve got show a softer side. The thousands of personal insights show that acceptance online is often easier to achieve than in the real world and that is what draws teens in. By flocking to networking sites that only target a young demographic, they have a potential goldmine of online friendships to be had – for a small part of their day they are ‘the plastics’, a feat that couldn’t be as easily replicated through the likes of Twitter.

Escapism is what the online experience is all about for teens, “Being able to leave the real world behind by people not being able to view your name, age and where you live so you can make totally new friends who like you for who you are online not offline. You can be anyone online.”

Whilst virtual worlds and social networks are their playgrounds for now, the teens said their online lives would change dramatically as they reach 18 years old. Thousands of the participants commented on their entry into the ‘real world’ (by getting a job or studying) cutting down their time online – although this isn’t something they’re concerned about, it’s something that they see as a natural transition in life.

Tom Jennings will be pleased to know that very few of the teens wrote in TXT SPK, although they don’t seem to like capital letters at the beginning of sentences.


as an addendum – similar post from Rory Cellen-Jones at the Beeb, with more figures and the like – nice nice: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/technology/2009/09/an_evening_with_generation_wha.html