If you want to know what the next Internet sensation will be, ask a teenager. When I taught summer school back in 2006, my 9th grade kids raved about and voraciously used YouTube and Facebook.
These kids are our future customers. Luckily for us, the Kaiser Family Foundation has already studied the media consumption habits of 8 to 18 year olds. Here is my take on what the results tell us:
• Kids are plugged in all the time – Kids spend an average of 10 hours and 45 minutes consuming media every day: 4 ½ hours watching TV, 2 ½ hours listening to music, 1 ½ hours on computers, and 1 ¼ playing video games. Which begs the question – when do they sleep? Or go to school? The next result might explain things:
• Multi-tasking is common – When kids consume media, almost a third of that time is spent multi-tasking. 43% multi-task while listening to music, and 40% while on the computer. 31% of respondents admit that while they do homework, they watch TV, play video games, text, or listen to music most of the time. 25% multi-task some of the time while only 19% say they never multi-task while doing homework. I bet a similarly high percentage will multi-task when they learn to drive – CRASH!
• Electronic consumption is rapidly growing – In 1999, kids were exposed to media about 7 ½ hours a day. In 2004, it was 8 ½ hours, but just 5 years later, it increased 25% to 10 ¾ hours.
• Kids are electronically spoiled – The most drastic increase can be seen in the number of kids who own media devices. In 2004, only 18% had an MP3 player and in 2009, that increased to 76% (hello iPod!). Cell phone ownership went from 39% to 66% and laptops more than doubled from 12% to 29%.
• Minorities are overexposed to media – Whites spends an average of 8 ½ hours a day exposed to media compared to Blacks and Latinos/Hispanics who spend an average of 13 hours (over 50% more). This is disturbing because of the link of poorer school performance to greater media exposure.
• TV watching is shifting away from TV to smaller devices – Kids spend 15% of their TV viewing time watching it on their iPod (16 minutes) or computer (24 minutes). Listening to music was the precursor for this behavior, only 36% of music listening is via CD or radio, the rest is on an iPod (29%), the computer (23%), or cell phone (12%).
• Email will be dead in 15 years – Kids spend 25% of their computer time on Social Networking sites, 19% playing games, 16% on video sites, 13% on instant messaging, and only 6% on email.
So, what does this all mean?
Executive Summary for Marketers: Your future customers will be plugged in virtually every minute they are awake (especially minorities), multi-tasking between Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter (or the latest sensation) on the small device of their choice (can you say iWatch?).
A picture of Your Future: Your customers will have incredibly short attention spans spawning the mini-commercial (5 second spots) that will have to be optimized for a plethora of form factors, probably in 4-D (you will feel everything), and opt-friend (they only consume ads approved by 1 or more friends). There will be an epidemic of car and walking collisions triggering highway speed limits to be reduced to 20 MPH and sidewalks to be people mover required. The biggest invention in 2021 will be the iSleep, a device that allows us to simultaneously sleep and surf the web.