Every generation has some significant aspect that defines a generation “gap.” In the case of youth culture today, meaning the target market of 13-25-year-olds in North America, this gap comes mostly from the lack of knowledge about technology among parents and teachers compared with the depth of knowledge, skill-level, and adaptation among their children. This disconnect is a pivotal source of change which has had a drastic leveling effect not only among generations, but the way people need to conduct business in order to reach this new consumer. Label Networks addresses this issue, among many others in the Spring and Fall Study 2008 in this section as well as Internet, Music, Cell Phones, and Lifestyle sections, with even greater detail to be found in our Digital Lifestyle Profiles from 2006, 2007, and 2008.
Access to specific electronics and purchasing patterns have created an environment that’s open to the user and increasing consumer control and consumer-generated content driving markets into niche directions, especially among a youth culture that knows no differently. Having grown up with access to computers, digital cameras, video cameras, and now iPods, iPhones, Satellite Radio, YouTube, MySpace, and FaceBook, they have certain expectations of access to information and creation of their own methods of communication and entertainment. They have morphed electronics and technology into serving their own purposes -usually beyond the originally intention that the device was originally created for, such as the classic example of using a cell phone for texting more than making actual calls. They are a new vanguard that’s not only computer literate, but creating their own peer-to-peer programs, networks, games, entertainment, and communication concepts and languages. And because young people are much more informed, aware, and sophisticated when it comes to technology and electronics, it’s been a tremendous new force in the marketplace based on changes in influences and spending patterns.
As we’ve written extensively in the Technology section of Label Networks and the corresponding Digital Lifestyle Profile Reports, youth culture is the demographic that’s driving this speed of change. In North America, for example, compared with Europe, young people are not overwhelmed with a multiple sources of information, but rather seek more information to spread the news faster. This is also the case in our Japan and China Youth Culture Studies. Those countries that do not have a conducive attitude towards technology, electronics in general, and access to information, we’re finding, are falling further and further behind in terms of trends overall. For example in Germany, where traditionally playing video games or even spending much time on the computer was considered wasteful by parents a few years ago, there’s an entire youth culture that is not as fast or “hungry” for new information, entertainment, and communication as some other cultures, particularly compared with the mobile and tech-savvy Japanese and Chinese. In the UK, for example, when asked about their feelings and perceptions of multiple sources of information coming at them, 15-30-year-olds often expressed a feeling of being overwhelmed. This is the opposite case of young people overall in North America who crave access and have come to expect it.
In this data report, we take a look at fresh results to the questions about technology and parents’ grasp of new systems vs. teachers.