Engineering with a Difference

The Relationship Between Kids, Youth and Digital Technology

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. , 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 interaction.

– 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 friends.

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 Networks.

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