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Business, Society - Written by on Tuesday, July 21, 2009 11:19 - 4 Comments

Digital Gap & Generation Lap

While browsing the web last week, I came across a variety of news sources that were buzzing about an article that some Morgan Stanley intern had written regarding media use among youth today. I wanted to see what all the hype was about, and set out to read 15 year old Matthew Robson’s research paper. This is what he had to say about each of the following types of media:

Radio: Teenagers do not listen to traditional radio because they are able to listen to online streaming music that is advertisement free and enables them to choose which songs they want to hear.

TV: Most teenagers still watch television but the consumption varies seasonally with popular programs (i.e. Teenage boys watch more TV when it’s football (soccer) season). Advertisements are a turnoff so many turn to internet channels to watch ad free programming. It’s getting harder for youth to find the time in their busy schedules to watch TV.

Newspapers: “No teenager I know of regularly reads a paper.” Most are reluctant to pay for a newspaper and when they do, prefer those that are compact for easy reading on the go.

Gaming: Girl gamers are becoming more numerous. Consoles that enable chat via internet are popular and negatively impact phone usage. PC gaming has no place in the market as it can be downloaded for free.

Internet: Most teenagers engage heavily in social networking. “Teenagers do not use Twitter”

Music: Teenagers listen to a lot of music but are very reluctant to pay for it. Most do not listen exclusively to music but rather do so while multitasking

Mobile phone: 99% of teenagers have a cell phone, and upgrade it every 2 years.

These revelations are not groundbreaking and if you are familiar with our research or Don’s books (Growing Up Digital and Grown Up Digital), you would find uncanny similarities between Matthew’s anecdotal findings and our 8 Norms of the Net Generation.

However, what IS surprising are the reactions that this paper is getting from the business community. Edward Hill-Wood, Matthew’s supervisor, claims that dozens and dozens of fund managers and CEOs have been e-mailing and calling all day. Others cite that this report has generated 5 to 6 times more feedback than the average Morgan Stanley research report. This goes on to show really how large the generation gap is between baby boomers and today’s digital natives. It seems that the impact of an internet savvy generation can no longer be ignored as executives turn their undivided attention towards understanding the Net Gen.

But before taking Matthew’s views for granted, I’d like to point out a few areas of caution. First, the findings are not supported statistically but rather represent solely the views of Matthew and his friends. Secondly, it’s important to take into account the context in which this research was conducted. Matthew is from London, England and being a 15 year old intern at a bank, must come from a solid educational background. In other words, his views may not be indicative of other teenagers… Net Geners in Japan certainly update their phones more frequently than once every two years and I for one do use Twitter as well as read newspapers on a regular basis…



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Web Media Daily – July 21, 2009
Jul 21, 2009 11:57

[...] Digital Gap & Generation Lap… Wikinomics [...]

Jul 27, 2009 0:25

Great post. The paper was really a little unrealistic. Tks

“Tiempos Modernos” « [Px]
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