The Unreachables: How Can New Media Attract Teens?

Some fascinating statistics are hitting the web today as a Morgan Stanley intern has published a report on the media habits of teens.  The intern – a teen himself at 15 years old – surprised many when he found that most kids his age not only avoid traditional media – TV, radio and newspapers – but they even eschew some new media, like Twitter.

I too have seen this trend when I talk to kids in high school (which I do on a somewhat regular basis with a part-time job).  They often are unaware of many “mainstream” news items that would interest a younger audience, such as advances in cool gadget technology and video games.

But when you think about it, who can blame them? A teen’s life is consumed by their friendships and their schoolwork, so how can they find the time to stay on top of the things that matter to them when they are doing a few hours of homework each night?

These teens represent a nearly unreachable demographic of media consumers in terms of getting news.  They don’t read newspapers, they don’t listen to the radio, and they don’t watch TV, and when they do it’s not for news.  And when they go online, they stick to social networks like Facebook and Myspace to keep up with their school friends.

In my generation, kids always wanted their own phone to chat with friends, which gave way to kids wanting their own cell phone.  Now, every house has a computer with internet and along with their cell phones, the teens continue their schoolyard discussions on the Web.

So how does new media find a way to reach teens? If teens can’t grab onto Twitter, what innovation is going to steal their attention away from their everyday lives with their REAL friends?


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