Friday, January 11, 2008

Tweens on the net – constructing a social space

Mattel, a large and well-researched toy/gadget manufacturer, dubs the trend “KAGOY” – Kids Are Growing Older Younger.” Recently, a few items surfaced that support this trend. According to a Jupiter Research report, nearly one-half of children (in the US) between the ages of 12-13 and one-third of children ages 10-11 will have cellphones by the end of 2007.

A Nielsen Study completed in December 2007 revealed that 35% of tweens (ages 8-12) have a mobile phone and 20% have used text messaging.

And you know that the EU, India (the new America) are not far behind.

But, according to eMarketer, the reach of social networks is set to plateau in 2008.


Although young people (kids and 'tweens') are the largest single source of growth in the future, the rising concern about the perils of sharing personal information online, breaches of privacy and security and the dangers of revealing too much (as the media hypes at hyper speed), there will be a transition on how youth will look and use technology.

What is really represents is that investors will slowly shift from putting their (your) money into the oversold Web 2.0 markets and switch to more lucrative markets - soaking youth into long-term payment plans.

Easy cash? Consumer advertising at its worse?

Not really - the so called 'mobile advertising' will not take-off as predicted and although young internet users tend to will spend longer online; they also explore options and seek value for their money.

Examples are BlueCrest Capital Finance, which provided $10 million in new debt financing to KAJEET, a pay-as-you-go cell phone service made from 'a kid’s point of view' and sold at Toys “R” Us and Longs Drugs Stores in the US.

Tween-only websites - the cyberspace constructions of the new generation, only help to commercialize and support the definition of this micro-economy from a purely marketing standpoint.

While researching a paper that I'm writing, I saw that these results were echoed by The NPD Group’s 'Kids and Consumer Electronics Trends III' report, which notes that the average age at which children begin using consumer electronics devices is now 6.7 years, down from an average of 8.1 years found by a similar 2005 study.

Ever hear of a Silicon Valley gaming startup called Elementeo and its 13-year old founder and CEO, Anshul Samar?

Across Europe, the social and cultural gap will widen between seniors (ages 55 or older) who join the online population, and the younger generation. In developing nations - it a magnitude more extreme.

It's being proven (not yet but almost) that technologies teens use, such as cell phones, weblogs, wikis, digital cameras, iPods, and Sidekicks is changing the way that youth recognize and respond to the emotional states they commonly experience - if only frequently changing students’ physiological states to prevent them from getting bored or mentally checking out.

Sites like the the PBS tween focused website, 'It’s My Life' draws on this discourse and positions the tween as vulnerable, and suggests that risks are to be avoided through access to information and social and emotional support. However, one could also argue that the tween is addressed as a serious and intelligent Internet user—nothing on this site is ‘dumbed down’ and there are no condescending attempts to appeal to tween popular culture.

Tween evaluation of risk-taking in social environments (sex, violence, substance abuse, illegal activities, etc) and the way they look at 'faith', new age spirituality or religious participation are also changing.

Technology will influence biological and maturational changes that occur during puberty, highlighting changes in brain development during adolescence.

Technology driven changes to risk taking is common in contemporary society and leads to substantial loss.

Adolescent-risk taking behavior is a function of these neurological changes and suggests that educators (and marketers) will have to watch out and adapt.

For the better?

Time will tell.


Blogger Marilyn said...

Keep up the good work. Cheers:-)

4:32 AM, January 12, 2008  

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