New Global Study From MTV, Nickelodeon and Microsoft Challenges Assumptions About Relationship Between Kids, Youth & Digital Technology



Jul 24, 2007, 01:00 ET from MTV Networks

    NEW YORK and LONDON, July 24 /PRNewswire/ -- The average Chinese young
 person has 37 online friends he or she has never met, Indian youth are most
 likely to see mobile phones as a status symbol, while one in three UK and
 US teenagers say they can't live without their games console.
     Globally, the average young person connected to digital technology has
 94 phone numbers in his or her mobile phone, 78 people on a messenger buddy
 list and 86 people in his or her social networking community. Yet despite
 their technological immersion, digi-kids are not geeks -- 59% of 8-14
 year-old kids still prefer their TV to their PCs and only 20% of 14-24
 year-old young people globally admitted to being "interested" in
 technology. They are, however, expert multi-taskers and able to filter
 different channels of information.
     These are just some of the findings from the largest-ever global study
 undertaken by MTV and Nickelodeon, in association with Microsoft Digital
 Advertising Solutions, into how kids and young people interact with digital
 technology. The Circuits of Cool/Digital Playground technology and
 lifestyle study challenges traditional assumptions about their
 relationships with digital technology, and examines the impact of culture,
 age and gender on technology use.
     Bill Roedy, Vice Chairman of MTV Networks International, a unit of
 Viacom Inc. (NYSE:   VIA, VIA.B), said: "Digital technology is impacting
 every aspect of content creation across Nickelodeon and MTV channels. Our
 groundbreaking report highlights our commitment to engaging with kids and
 young people globally. It will help us build stronger and more innovative
 alliances with business partners across our 137 TV channels and 260 web and
 mobile services. We're delighted to have joined forces with Microsoft on
 this major project."
     "Digital communications -- from IM, SMS, social networking to email --
 have all revolutionized how young people communicate with their peers. We
 wanted to understand more deeply how young people interact with these
 technologies and consequently what this means for our advertising partners
 focused on reaching this highly engaged and influential audience. Working
 with MTV Networks globally on this study enabled us to do so," said Chris
 Dobson, Vice President, Global Advertising Sales, Microsoft Digital
 Advertising Solutions.
     Circuits of Cool/Digital Playground used both qualitative and
 quantitative methodology to talk to 18,000 "tech embracing" kids (8-14) and
 young people (14-24) in 16 countries: UK, Germany, Holland, Italy, Sweden,
 Denmark, Poland, US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, China, India, Japan, Australia
 and New Zealand. MTV Networks and Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions
 studied 21 technologies that impact on the lives of young people: internet,
 email, PC, TV, mobile, IM, cable and sat TV, DVD, MP3, stereo/hi-fi,
 digital cameras, social networks, on and offline video games, CDs, HD TV,
 VHS, webcams, MP4 players, DVR/PVRs, and hand-held games consoles.
     The report found:
      -- Technology has enabled young people to have more and closer
         friendships thanks to constant connectivity.
      -- Friends influence each other as much as marketers do.  Friends are as
         important as brands.
      -- Kids and young people don't love the technology itself -- they just
         love how it enables them to communicate all the time, express
         themselves and be entertained.
      -- Digital communications such as IM, email, social networking sites and
         mobile/sms are complementary to, not competitive with, TV.  TV is part
         of young peoples' digital conversation.
      -- Despite the remarkable advances in communication technology, kid and
         youth culture looks surprisingly familiar, with almost all young
         people using technology to enhance rather than replace face-to-face
      -- Globally, the number of friends that young males have more than
         doubles between the ages of 13-14 and 14-17 -- it jumps from 24 to 69.
      -- The age group and gender that claims the largest number of friends are
         not girls aged 14-17, but boys aged 18-21, who have on average 70
     National differences
     The study found that while many young people have access to similar
 digital technologies, they use them in very different ways. "Technology is
 adopted and adapted in different ways in different parts of the world --
 and that depends as much on local culture as on the technology itself,"
 said Colleen Fahey Rush, Executive Vice President of Research for MTV
     For example, Japan's reputation as a land in love with technology is
 different from the reality. Japanese young people live in small homes with
 limited privacy, generally don't have their own PC until they go to college
 and socialize away from home a lot. As a result, their key digital device
 is the mobile phone because it offers privacy and portability.
     Unlike young people in other countries, Japanese kids and young people
 have few online friends. Japanese kids aged 8-14 have only one online
 friend they haven't met, compared to a global average of 5, while Japanese
 teenagers have only seven online friends they haven't met -- compared to a
 global average of 20. Japanese teens also used IM and email the least out
 of the 16 countries surveyed.
     China has lower mobile usage amongst young people, a less-evolved print
 media market and a family life of no siblings with parents and multiple
 grandparents. As a result, the internet provides a rare opportunity for
 only -- and lonely -- children to reach out and communicate using social
 networks, blogs and instant messaging. In stark contrast to their Japanese
 peers, 93% of Chinese respondents 8-14 have more than one friend online
 they have never met face to face.
     "Chinese kids inhabit a world very different from their parents, and
 because of that they would rather find advice and support through their
 friends than through family," said Fahey Rush. Amongst 8-14s globally, only
 in China was TV not the No. 1 choice. "This is encouraging 8-14-year-olds
 in China to select online over TV, a trend not witnessed in any other
 market," she said.
     Climate impacts on digital technology too. In countries with a strong
 outdoor culture, such as Italy, Brazil and Australia, young people use
 mobiles for arranging to meet, flirt and take pictures of their friends.
     Northern Europeans take a practical approach to technology, but are
 perhaps the most immersed in it of all. Out of all nationalities surveyed,
 young Danes are most likely to say they can't live without mobiles (80%) or
 TVs (75%), and young Dutch most likely to say they can't live without
 e-mail (85%).
     Despite the plethora of new communicating tools, a majority in almost
 every nation expressed a preference for meeting in person, although
 Japanese, Chinese, Poles and Germans scored higher than others when it came
 to wanting to communicate online. Only Chinese youth actually expressed a
 majority preference for texting over face-to-face meetings.
     More and closer friendships
     Circuits of Cool/Digital Playground found that technology's greatest
 impact has been on the depth and range of friends that 14-24s have. From
 having an average 11 friends between the ages of 8-14, young people
 speedily acquire circles of dozens of friends in their teenage years. The
 average 14- 24 has an average of 53 online and face-to-face friends -- and
 communicate with them often. "Under the age of 14, kids generally use the
 phone as a toy. After 14, the mobile phone quickly becomes a means of
 self-expression and communication," said Fahey Rush.
     Many of the 14-24s surveyed said that the different forms of
 communication enabled them to talk about more intimate subjects than they
 would have otherwise done. Over half said that they could talk about more
 things on IM than face-to-face, 53% said that they could get to know people
 better, while around 4 out of every ten said that they found it easier to
 make new friends and felt less lonely as a result of using the Internet.
 "The role friends play in the lives of young people has increased
 dramatically. Socializing doesn't stop when kids come home from college or
 school; it just goes online. Young people are now constantly connected,"
 said MTV Network's Fahey Rush.
     On average, 14-24s said they had 20 online friends, with Brazilians
 claiming the most -- 46. Communicating with their friends is a priority.
 Nearly 70% said the first thing they did after turning on their computer
 was to check IM. Out of all young people surveyed, 14-17 girls spend the
 least time online -- 21 hours per week -- whilst 22-24 males spent the most
 time online -- 31 hours a week online. One hundred percent of those
 surveyed said they communicate every time they go online.
     "The power of online communication tools, like instant messenger and
 social networking sites, enables young people to communicate both privately
 and with multiple friends. Features in IM, like winks and emoticons, add to
 the fun of chatting and allow them to express themselves more deeply," said
 Caroline Vogt, Head of International Research, Microsoft Digital
 Advertising Solutions.
     Safety and parental control
     Safety and parental oversight ranks high on the uses technology serves
 with the younger demographics. 68% of 8-14 respondents said they felt safer
 having their mobile phones with them outside the home -- rising to 81% in
 the UK -- and 71% said their parents use the phone to find out where they
 are. "In some countries, and Mexico is a good example, children are bought
 mobiles as a key safety item," said Fahey Rush.
     When parents aren't around, 8-14s are more likely to communicate with
 friends, participate in chat forums and use the internet for entertainment.
 German kids aged 8-14 use the internet the least of all countries studied
 and were also the least likely to view it positively -- only 25% of German
 kids said they loved the internet -- compared to 73% of Dutch kids. The
 behavior is likely to be linked the high degree of parental supervision of
 German kids on the internet.
     With social networking becoming a frequent online activity for over
 half of youth, 35% are claiming they now use these sites because all their
 friends are on them. This helps to explain the phenomenal rise of social
 networking - - their popularity is based on collective usage. In the UK,
 one of the strongest reasons for using social networks is to keep young
 people from feeling left out. "Parents should take comfort from these
 findings. Kids and youths prefer to connect with their friendship groups
 and, at most, extend out to people with similar interests. The perception
 amongst young people is that it's their parents who are more likely to use
 digital networks for online dating or meeting strangers!" said Vogt.
     Business Impact
     Advertisers and content companies wishing to evolve and engage with
 kids and youth audiences need to understand the changes taking place in how
 kids and young people lead their lives. "Traditionally, marketing has
 considered opinion formers and influencers to be a small number of people.
 Nowadays it has become a much larger group," said Fahey Rush.
     A clear majority of young people asked said the majority of website
 links (88%) they viewed and the viral video content they downloaded (55%)
 came from friends' recommendations. Audiences also wanted more control of
 what they watched and when they wanted it. Young people expect content to
 be on all platforms; mobile, computer and TV. They want it to be searchable
 and increasingly expect it to be supplied on demand through services such
 as Joost.
     MTVN is producing global shows such as Meet or Delete in conjunction
 with HP, where content is available on mobile, TV and on computer, and
 programming was shot in different countries across North America, Europe
 and Asia. Another example of how this report is influencing programming is
 in MTVN's partnership with Sony Ericsson to highlight new talent for the
 Europe Music Awards through online and mobile voting.
     "Friends are becoming as important as brands because young people are
 so influential to one another, noted Fahey Rush. "A brand needs to be
 interesting enough to get people talking about it. A brand needs to be
 special. If not, it won't be heard, and that's what some brands get wrong,"
 said Fahey Rush.
     Vogt agreed. "Brands need to provide teens with content that they want
 to share. Their reward will be the loyalty of brand-savvy groups.
 Microsoft's online campaign for Sony is a great example of using content to
 build loyalty across a youth audience. By announcing new film releases
 using a Messenger tab, Sony was able to provide content for teens that they
 then shared with peers across their networks, generating 8.4 million visits
 to the site," said Vogt.
     Young people are not geeks
     The Circuits of Cool and Digital Playground survey found that the
 "technology" itself is irrelevant to kids and young people. While kids use
 mobiles and the internet constantly, the survey found that only 20% of
 14-24s actually loved technology, and they're in developing nations such as
 Brazil, India and China. The people least interested in technology were the
 Danes and the Dutch -- despite saying they couldn't live without it.
     "For kids and young people, 'tech' isn't a separate entity now, it's
 organic to their lives," said Fahey Rush. "They are completely focused on
     Apart from a few key new media terms, most young people avoided
 industry jargon. Only 8% of those questioned used the term
 "multi-platform," and only 16% admitted to using the phrase "social
 networking." The terms they use most frequently are those relating to
 accessing content for free, like "download" and "burn." They also use brand
 names rather than category terms, with MSN, Google, and MySpace amongst the
 most popular. The term "web 2.0" is used by very few people (8%) outside
     Young people also multi-task to a greater extent than adults. They
 still generally only do one thing at a time, but are able to have more
 stimuli coming at them and select the one that grabs them at that moment.
 Vogt commented: "Kids are very good at filtering the mass of information
 coming at them -- dipping in and out of each."
     Kids and teenagers the same as ever -- only different
     Circuits of Cool/Digital Playground found that what kids and teens do
 has not significantly changed in 15 years. For kids, they may be immersed
 in tech from the day they were born, but the things they enjoy doing most
 are watching TV (85%), listening to music (70%), hanging out with friends
 (68%), playing video games (67%) and spending time online (51%). As they
 grow into teens so the ranking of their favorite pastimes change. At the
 top of the list of 14- 24s favorite pastimes is listening to music (70%),
 followed by watching TV or hanging out with friends, both of which polled
 got 65%. Next came watching DVDs (60%), relaxing (60%), going to cinema
 (59%), spending time online (56%), spending time with girl or boyfriend
 (55%), eating (53%) and hanging out at home (49%).
     "There is a powerful link between TV and the Internet, especially for
 14- 24s. TV is watched to relieve stress. Sixty percent said they watched
 most of their TV lying down. But the Internet is cognitive and active,
 especially if young people are using it for studying or social situations,"
 said Fahey Rush.
     Kids still love good advertising. While the "best ad they've seen
 recently" is still overwhelmingly on TV, there is the opportunity for
 marketers to extend their digital advertising across the other technologies
 kids are engaged with, including IM and social networking sites, especially
 since 47% of youth IM each other about "what is on TV right now." "TV is
 not a background medium. TV is the only medium they use while not
 multitasking. Linear TV is great for introducing people to new things that
 they weren't searching for in the first place," said Fahey Rush.
     And for IM, the top topics for 14-24s were: gossiping (62%), making
 arrangements (57%), talking about the opposite sex (57%) and flirting
 (55%), work or school (54%) and TV and music (52%). "Given the amount of
 time young people are spending on instant messenger every day presents a
 very powerful opportunity for brands to connect with the youth audience.
 When on IM, teenagers are at their most engaged and interactive," said
     About MTV Networks
     MTV Networks International includes the premier multimedia
 entertainment brands MTV: Music Television, VH1, Nickelodeon, TMF (The
 Music Factory), VIVA, Flux, Paramount Comedy, Game One and IFILM. MTV
 Networks' brands are seen in 505.3 million households in 160 countries and
 28 languages via more than 135 locally programmed and operated TV channels
 and more than 260 digital media properties. The company's diverse holdings
 also include interests in television syndication, digital media,
 publishing, home video, radio, recorded music, licensing & merchandising
 and two feature film divisions, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies. MTV
 Networks is a unit of Viacom Inc. (NYSE:   VIA, VIA.B).
     About Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions
     Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions is a robust set of global
 advertising products and services designed to effectively connect
 advertisers with their target audiences across multiple digital touch
 points. Advertisers can actively engage with their consumers through a
 suite of high-impact advertising products and platforms, reaching a global
 audience of more than 465 million unique users per month across the MSN
 network, as well as millions more through Windows Live, Xbox(R), the
 Microsoft Office system and Live Search. Advertisers can feel confident
 they will achieve measurable results through groundbreaking research,
 advertising innovation, strategic planning and excellence in execution.
 More information about Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions is available
     About Microsoft
     Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq:   MSFT) is the worldwide leader in
 software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize
 their full potential.