Teens, texting and the future of technology

I’m old enough to have perspective. When I was a teen it was all about the phone. We were on the phone all the time. We had to be on the phone all the time because there was SO MUCH GOING ON and we weren’t allowed to live in the same house with our friends and discuss EVERYTHING all the time. There was so much to talk about: ourselves, our friends, our loves, our despair, school, our parents, what we saw on TV, what we thought about what we saw on TV, what our friends thought about it and so on and so on.

Teens today are texting all the time. Why?  4 reasons:

Reach

Texting is like passing notes in class, only better because you can send pictures and the same note to all your friends at the same time! AWESOME!!! And for teens there’s SO MUCH GOING ON. Being able to talk to EVERYONE AT THE SAME TIME makes texting WAY BETTER than the phone.

Privacy

If a teen says something out loud it could be overheard. Texting is so much better than the phone because it can’t be overheard. Teens are navigating some of the biggest changes of their lives, many of them hormone induced and the cause of potential humiliation. Privacy is vital.

Lack of interruption

If two teens talk on the phone, one teen can interrupt the other’s thought easily. Not so in a text. By typing rather than talking, teens are able to fully express themselves. They invented the texting shorthand so they could do it faster.

Secrecy

Privacy is different than secrecy. Privacy involves friends, secrecy involves adults. Your parents or siblings can overhear a phone conversation but texting is silent and can be done on the sly.

If you’re marketing to teens, keep all this in mind. It is hard to interrupt them and to keep their attention unless you’re one of their friends. They like things like tweet chats, which make zero sense to anyone over 25. Social media works on teens because they’re crazy social. Once they grow up they’ll lose some of the dexterity that made texting at high speed possible. (Yah, let’s see you get that old high score on pac man now my friend.) They’ll focus on their family and their job and not care what anyone thinks about what they didn’t have time to watch on TV. Marketers tend to think that every trend is unending and though the future is mobile and the next generation’s behavior will be different because of it. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, does the easiest thing that fills most of their needs. If I had had access to a smart phone when I was 15, I would have been a texting fiend. That doesn’t mean I would still be texting, though it would be so familiar and I would have so much muscle memory in my thumbs that it would always be a good option. Teens are going to grow up and their behavior is going to change. Technology is going to change. The future is going to be something we haven’t even dreamed of yet. Once we get there, the thing that won’t change is that teens are still going to have to discuss EVERYTHING all the time because there is SO MUCH GOING ON.

 

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