Teen views on what’s hot and what’s not

howteenagers The story of the teenager on work experience at financial services firm  Morgan Stanley in London – what my American friends call an ‘intern’ – who wrote a research paper on teenagers’ online media habits has grabbed attention everywhere as the FT reports.

The paper describes how Morgan Stanley’s European media analysts asked Matthew Robson, one of the bank’s interns from a London school, to describe his friends’ media habits.

[…] His report proved to be "one of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen. So we published it," said Edward Hill-Wood, head of the team.

The response was enormous. "We’ve had dozens and dozens of fund managers, and several CEOs, e-mailing and calling all day," said Mr Hill-Wood, 35, estimating that the note had generated five or six times more feedback than the team’s usual reports.

The FT says that the report has become “the talk of middle-aged media executives and investors.”

Which jumps nicely to a wholly alternative view on what could have taken place at Morgan Stanley when they decided to look at a younger generation and how they consume media content.

Read this with your tongue firmly in your cheek (and don’t read it in the office if colourful language isn’t your workplace scene).

From Grant McCracken:

Relying on interns as a source of information about contemporary culture is a well known cheat in the corporate world. Here’s how they did it recently at Morgan Stanley, according to The Gawker.

Morgan Stanley has this 15 year-old intern in London, so while all these dudes were sitting around miserably trying to do analyst reports about youth media habits and shit, they realized they didn’t know shit about youth media habits, because they spend all their time in the office writing analyst reports, so they asked this intern kid, "Hey kid, why don’t you write a thing about your friend and how they use media and shit?"
Then they promptly forgot about it, because, I mean, kids, right? But then this kid comes back with this report and the analysts are like, "Holy fuck, we could totally sell this shit to other old people!" So now Morgan Stanley has published this kid’s note as a research report, and it is of course way more popular than whatever these pro guys have written this year.

The title of McCracken’s post is “Why Morgan Stanley needs a CCO.” There’s a sensible business thought behind the rough humour he highlights.

In any event, the report does make for interesting reading – the situation as pictured by a 15-year-old in London – whatever the method leading up to its publication.

Here’s a sample (the conclusion, actually):

What is Hot?

  • Anything with a touch screen is desirable.
  • Mobile phones with large capacities for music.
  • Portable devices that can connect to the internet (iPhones)
  • Really big tellies

What Is Not?

  • Anything with wires
  • Phones with black and white screens
  • Clunky ‘brick’ phones
  • Devices with less than ten-hour battery life

You can download the PDF report from the FT.

You can also get a view from across the Atlantic as my friend and podcasting partner Shel Holtz describes work-life integration citing an example of the behaviour of his just-out-of-teen daughter Rachel (she’s 20):

[…] Her mobile phone is always with her. It’s always buzzing or launching into any among dozens of ringtones. She doesn’t care all that much about the manufacturer of the phone, the operating system, or the next great thing on the product horizon. She’s barely aware of Android.

In fact, Rachel is baffled by my obsession with emerging technologies. But if I told her she had to go on vacation without her phone, she’d look at me like I had just landed here from somewhere in the Adromeda system. For Rachel, it’s not a question of whether she’s plugged into a machine 24/7. It’s a question of being in or out of touch with her network of friends and colleagues. In her paradigm, 24/7 connectivity is just the way things are. And the connectivity is with people, not with platforms, algorithms or systems configurations.

Add it all to your thinking about society, behaviours and relationships.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Alastair McKenzie

    I’m fascinated by my 13-yr-old son’s use of TV. He has no interest in it at all. To him it’s not a window, it’s purely wallpaper. Other than the occasional football match or Formula 1 race, the only live or new TV he’ll watch is something ‘of the moment’ like Britain’s got Talent. Otherwise he sits with his mobile and laptop in front of endless re-cycles of sitcoms (like Friends, Frasier, Scrubs) – sometimes seeing the same edition more than once the same day. To him it’s just familiar eye-candy in the background while he chats or plays with his mates on MSN, Facebook or World of Warcraft.

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