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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in
software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize
their full potential.
SOURCE MTV Networks