Digital Kids Around the Globe — A Technology Lifestyle Study

To most adults, knowing which technologies kids prefer and why, is at best, a guessing game. Which is more important: cell phones? iPods? MySpace? In the past year, some very insightful leisure time and technology reports about kids have come out from The NPD Group (see prior blog post in March 2007), Nickelodeon (prior posts in Nov 2006 and Jan 2007), and recently a new division of Weekly Reader called Weekly Reader Research. Each group has something very unique to share about kids and technology. Yesterday, portions of a new study called “The Circuits of Cool / Digital Playground” was released. This study, which interviewed 18,000 kids and youth from 16 different countries, was collaboratively developed by MTV, Nickelodeon and Microsoft. This latest survey looks at technology and its influences on lifestyle of kids (8-14) and young people (14 – 24) around the globe.

Here are a few top level insights from the study:

  • Technology has enabled young people to have more and closer friendships, thanks to constant connectivity.
  • 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.

Here are a few data snippets from this survey looking only at kids 8-14:

  • 59% of 8-14 year olds still prefer their TV to their PCs.
  • 68% of 8-14 respondents said they felt safer having their mobile phones with them outside the home.
  • When parents aren’t around, 8-14s are more likely to communicate with friends, participate in chat forums and use the internet for entertainment.
  • Under the age of 14, kids generally use the phone as a toy. After 14, the mobile phone quickly becomes a means of self-expression and communication.

The full press release, which includes comparison data for kids and young people around the world regarding cell phone use, online friends, social networking, TV, computer use and more, can be found here.

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