http://www.uktribes.com/?p=article&id=26&article=257 Use the guide questions in ‘UK Tribes
Published: 7th May 2010 Annotating Essays.doc’ to help pick out key
points from this article
It's easy to forget five
years ago life was so
different. What has
really changed for
In a society where
social media, mobile communications and instant access are considered the norm, it is
easy to forget that even five years ago life was so different. But what has really changed
for young people? How are the lives of young people changing? And what’s so different for
16 to 24-year olds?
We asked a team of industry experts – people for whom the 16 to 24-year old
demographic is an important one – to let us know their thoughts. Some of the changes are
obvious: of course, the “social media revolution” has played a part in ensuring that
everyone has a voice – and a place for their voice to be heard, be it by the tens or the
thousands; and technological advances mean that people are more connected than ever
before, and more mobile – you can make plans on the move, instantly and hassle-free. But
what else is changing for young people?
“For young people it’s about moments that draw them together – and enhancing those
moments amongst an ever-growing array of entertainment experiences,” agrees Adam
Boita, of Sony Computer Entertainment. “PlayStation sets out to be social, fun and
surprising, which I think resonates with them. The ability to challenge friends and other
fans online globally has opened up boundaries. For some young people, it's their main
entertainment experience and for others it plays a part in their overall entertainment
Michelle Saxby of the Teenage Cancer Trust agrees that social interaction is most
important to young people: “Mobile technology and the internet has meant that teenagers
in 2010 have an online social life that needs maintaining.”
It is access and communication that has most altered the lives of young people, says
Michelle. “It is important to communicate with young people in an engaging, clear, honest
and non-patronising way. We give important messages that don’t scaremonger. We use
social networking channels, such as Facebook, and we use text updates. We use the most
up-to-date forms of communications to speak to young people and our units provide
patients with state-of-the-art technology – online gaming and Skype, helping to keep them
occupied and in touch with friends and family,” Michelle adds.
“Young people want to feel part of a gang. And they know what they like, what they want
as consumers,” says Taylor Glasby, editor of Disorder Magazine. “The explosion of
social media means that traditional media is now dissected and reassembled away from
the gaze of those that control it – and the results can be very interesting. When Rage
Against the Machine got to number 1 over the X Factor single, it was obvious that no
record label could have constructed that campaign successfully. It was a real group
But this is not really new behaviour, says Sean Adams, founder of Drowned In Sound.
“The ability to 'follow' people on social networks is just like a digital equivalent of people
reading interviews with Kurt Cobain to discover the Pixies and Sonic Youth. Tumblr is the
new scrapbook, Twitter is the new scribbling in Tippex on your textbook.”
“I think the person-to-person world has shifted things greatly. I think we're seeing a shift
from the data-is-king aggregation world of popular-equals-best, to a much more fractured,
individualistic culture,” adds Sean.
“Media plays a role in shaping and influencing and representing young people's lives more
now than ever before,” asserts Naomi Jane, from the 4WD Foundation. “Young people
have grown up with the media, using it as a method of communication with friends and
strangers as well as a source of entertainment and information. Social media is now likely
to engage young people more than any other media format. Young people have been
brought up as consumers of media, accepting stories as fact and more often than not have
a more active interest in entertainment orientated media over information-orientated
But there is a negative to the mass media presence in the lives of young people. For
young people, a sense of belonging – to a community or network or group – is still
important, says Taylor. “Young people are consistently belittled, demonised, or ignored.
Sadly, most young people accept this. And when they don't and try to use media as a tool
to protest, the patronising continues; a raised eyebrow, a snide 'oh, look at that clever
young person talking in big sentences!' aside. Magazines such as Disorder are vital as a
voice and inspiration. Blogs are brilliant tools of voice and community.”
Naomi Jane agrees that, unfortunately, the media plays a part in ostracising young people.
“The media's representation of young people has been largely negative and demonising.
Often taken as truth, misconceptions and generalisations can have the knock on effects of
isolating the young and spreading ignorance and prejudice amongst older generations.”
Communicating isn’t simply through normal channels. Music is important to young people,
as an expression of who they are, says Andy Spence, a member of New Young Pony
Club. “Music is a great communicator of style, values, beliefs, emotion… It lends itself to
developing great friends – something that's a high priority at that age. It's also a great
escape from worries and anxieties.”
Young people’s sense of identity is stronger than ever, says DJ/producer Kissy Sell Out.
“It’s like a smash ‘n’ grab society; here today/gone tomorrow. You can mix and match
music tastes to suit your identity. Young people know what they like, and are not afraid to
stay loyal to those tastes – but equally they’re very experimental.
“It encourages innovation and creativity – and inspires young people. I think that’s
something older people don’t necessarily understand – it all changes too quickly for them.
Imagine what it’ll be like in 10 years’ time! Young people have the freedom to be whoever
they want to be. They don’t tend to distinguish between genres. Choice now has more to
do with what young people actually prefer, as opposed to what they belong to. Music is
about the experiences now.”
“If I were to name two major differences I would say engagement and expression,” says
Gaby Jesson of Radiator PR. “As well as channelling brand personalities through
conventional and social media, brands are getting right into the hearts and minds of 16-24
year olds through direct engagement. They are making young consumers the champions
and benefitting from their input too. Expression is also key – making brands come to life
through delivering relevant experiences aimed at this age group.
“Today it is almost impossible to buy a home or get a worthwhile pension so most young
people are creating status through the life experiences they have and how they share
these with their peer group. They are less motivated by financial gain and more motivated
by the journey they are on. Whether that’s becoming a young entrepreneur or just finding
an amazing new festival or holiday experience to check out.
And so what does the future hold for young people? How will their lives continue to
change? It’s uncertain, concludes Naomi Jane. “The future is a very uncertain concept for
young people right now. Change is more frequent, fluid and unscheduled than has ever
been before. It will just keep changing.”