Modern teenagers are well informed, savvy and socially aware, report
20-08-2020 12:35:00 | Editor: Bob Koigi | hits: 11749 | Tags:

A new report has put to question the dominant perception that  young people are care-free, thoughtless and irresponsible revealing that today’s teenagers are indeed well informed, socially aware, considered and savvy when it comes to making financial and life decisions.

The report from WPP agencies Mindshare, MediaCom and Wavemaker has uncovered seven archetypes: Confident Aspirers, Self-Assured Rebels, Socially-Aware Butterflies, Virtual Virtuosos, Future Proofers, Trend Setters and Content Addicts.

Today’s teenagers do not know life without a wealth of information readily available at their fingertips, allowing them to be self-reliant and in control of their decision-making as well as having strong, personal and highly individual aspirations. They prioritize having a job they love over any need to conform to expectations of parents for their choice in careers and they also value the role of education in helping them achieve this.

However, growing up with the consequences of a global recession means these ambitions are underpinned by a strong need for financial security and realism, with 56 per cent of our sample saying they had put money into savings in the last month, ranging from 77 per cent in India to 35 per cent in the UK.

They are extremely savvy shoppers, with 60 per cent saying that they fully research a product before they buy it and 54 per cent agreeing that they don’t buy things spontaneously as they like to know more details first. The current global environment is likely to further embed teenage attitudes towards financial security, with this highly informed audience acutely aware of the damaging impact of coronavirus on the world economy, levels of unemployment and therefore the increased potential of getting into financial difficulties in the future.

Personally curated content is their language of social exchange. Teens choose how to individually express themselves online and to appear interesting, well-liked and attractive to friends and family. Ensuring content is “social media ready” is of huge importance and teens regularly edit content, applying filters and enhancements, to portray the “best” version of themselves online. On average, each teenager uses 2.1 editing features, rising to 2.5 for Socially-Aware Butterflies and 2.7 for Trendsetters.

However, Teens take active responsibility for what they post online to answer their concerns about online privacy, with 62 per cent taking time to consider what they post online in case it offends others. Aware of the potentially harmful future impact of their digital data, they only share personal content with a close circle of friends and family, with almost no sharing beyond this. Online bullying is also a major concern for 61 per cent of teens.

Today’s teenagers are also the only age group to grow up from babies with the iPhone and social media and they crave this digital social connection, the ability to share their lives, thoughts and emotions with others in the moment and to be constantly informed and updated about the lives of others. In fact, 64% would rather eat the same food for the rest of their life than be without social media!

As a result of this upbringing, Teenagers simply can’t afford to be out of touch for a moment and risk missing out on something, with 67 per cent stating they would rather have super-fast Wi-Fi than infinite battery – because the latter can be solved, but the former is imperative for instant connectivity. With teens, FOMO, fear of missing out, has become FOBO, fear of being offline.  

Many of the identified behaviours and attitudes of teenagers in the report are likely to be more deeply cemented due to the pandemic, with many learning new skills such as creativity, adaptability and managing ambiguity, that will last with them through to adulthood.

Victoria Cook, Global Head of Audiences, Mindshare Worldwide: “People often use the term ‘Millennials’ for young people, which is just lazy. The youngest Millennials are already 24 and the oldest are just turning 40 - the idea they represent the ‘youth’ of today is just wrong. Teenagers show very different behaviours from the old Millennial stereotype. We can’t assume the youth of yesterday is the youth of tomorrow and brands need to make sure they understand this generation now, so they don’t alienate their consumers of the future.”

Catherine Day, Global Insights Director, MediaCom : “Understanding the cultural nuances behind teen’s universal behaviours is key to helping our clients communicate impactfully with teenagers in different places across the world. We’re uniquely positioned to understand these differences through our Cultural Connections insights.”