YouTube Myth Debunked: Kids Are Actually Lazy…

24 10 2007

Interesting article here on the distribution of content uploaders across age groups.

Surprise, surprise. Kids are lazy and adults make most of the content.

I’ve been trying to prove this forever. Thanks HitWise.

Being 21 years old, having many friends and a little sister in the 18-24 year old range I could say I told you so. Based on my anecdotal evidence the younger demographic lags in terms of adoption of new media technologies as well. Most of the early adopters are older people (late twenties to early thirties) that are exposed to the latest and greatest. The vast majority of my peers have no idea what RSS is, and very few read more than 5 blogs per day.

The new media world suffers from severe projection bias.

I’m just as guilty as the next person that lives in the new media space of believing that everyone cares about this stuff. Our lives are engulfed in this world, and most of the people you know are too. This creates a HUGE gap between what actual people in Kansas are aware of and what Scoble is familiar with. The recent stat of 6% of the online population being on Twitter is ludicrous. I would be impressed to find that 6% of people in Manhattan had heard of it. Now imagine Cleveland. Projection bias means that we use ourselves as the starting point and project outward; thus, people in the new media world project outward and believe that kids growing up with access to all these tools must be incredibly savvy. This is not true.

Now this demographic is, as a whole, far more open minded toward technology and is very comfortable integrating technology into their lives. However, the kicker is to drum up enough initial interest to sell us. The catch 22 of social media is that it is worthless without friends. I have 0 ‘real’ friends on Twitter, which is why I stopped using the platform and I have relatively tech savvy friends. However, I bet someone like David Armano has a host of close friends that are familiar with and use Twitter. It creates utility for him, but not for most people in the 18-24 year old demo.

This is where web 2.0/new media companies for the most part are failing. It is a classic example of bloggers writing for bloggers and engineering building for engineers. The vast majority of web 2.0 tools are targeted to the tech niche. They need to be repositioned to solve problems that are relevant for their markets. In all the talk about the value of Twitter no one has ever framed how it solves a problem for a 14 year old kid.

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3 responses

31 10 2007
Gavin Heaton

Great post, Seni. It really is easy to believe our own hype … but just because they appeal to one group, just because I might like the “connectedness” and have a ready-made network ready to go … not everyone else does.

I think this goes to the heart with our fascination with youth. In many ways, I think new technologies tap into the “fountain of youth” cultural mythology … so its appeal may make us older folks “feel young” but, in reality, it just serves to keep us ever more dislocated from young people. Hmm … interesting. Will think on that some more … again, great post.

6 11 2007
Shaping Youth

You’re right, it’s easy to confuse reality with the Twitterati/digerati, especially when viral videos, memes, and flash fads can traverse the blogosphere with such speed.

Being Bay-area based, it’s easy to assume this is fully immersive media and everyone is ‘Scoblized’ (yep, it’s a verb) when in fact a teensy percentage of the globe is even IN the conversation, much less contributing meaningful media, and we’ve got youth advisors in schools as eyes and ears all over the place confirming your hunch.

Most of the 14-year olds we work with are more into surfing web videos than creating them, and cellphones and music are by far the timeless norm, even when used simultaneously.

As Gavin can attest, there IS potential power of youth mobilization when you can create tactical impact in a flash. ($10K for charity in under a month for the Age of Conversation book is a cool thing to be a part of; and not an anomaly, for Beth Kanter used Twitter to raise $1K in 24 hours to send a Cambodian orphan to college)

But again, who’s igniting that flame? Youth or adults? And what constitutes ‘youth’ anyway? Tweens? Teens? 18-24? Seems the operative world is POTENTIAL here, since voting, activism, and vast resource sharing in an open source intellectual sphere could clearly engage youth beyond who has a cool ringtone, and which text message needs sent to get a free chocolate bar.

That’s where the relevance you bring up comes in…phones make it a snap to converge in one spot w/friends, but does that make it a ‘flash mob?’ Hardly. In my experience with our own youth advisors, those calls are usually made one by one, not via ‘e-blast text message,’ or ‘groups’ feature, or ‘synching up,’even though it could save kids’ multiple phone calls. Great blog post and good reminder for us all…

15 11 2007
emersondirect

We’re making kids lazy by automating every single thing that they do anymore! The graph for uploaders is accurate because this group is in the sweet spot for embracing technology. Tweens and teens, don’t embrace it, they devour it and then spit out what wastes their time. Hence the reason why cell phones and music are still the things that energize them. Social networks and every other technology out there requires a certain amount of down time and tweens and teens aren’t down with that. Hence, IM is huge because its instant, its realtime and requires zero intelligence to grasp.

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