Newspapers? Landlines? E-mail? So Over

12 to 24 Year Olds Really Are Different When It Comes to Media

By Published on .

PHOENIX ( -- Most people from 12 to 24 years old will never read a print-edition newspaper, are attached to some magazines, will never own a landline phone, aren't very interested in the source of information they get, rely on instant messaging and think e-mail is for their parents, according to Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication.
Jeffrey Cole
Jeffrey Cole

In a talk yesterday at the American Magazine Conference, Mr. Cole laid out those and other results from extensive research on evolving media habits and internet use in particular. While teenagers never were much for newspapers, they used to start picking them up as they got older -- and that has now changed, he said.

Adopting new habits
People from 25 to 54 years old have adopted plenty of new habits as their media options have expanded and evolved, but not to the degree that their children have, Mr. Cole said. The older set does read offline newspapers as well as magazines, are heavy into e-mail and care greatly about the source of their information.

Although today's teenagers and young 20-somethings may never pick up ink-on-newsprint papers, the medium has a longer life ahead than many people have predicted, Mr. Cole said, framing the print editions' future in terms of decades, not just years.

Better still for the magazine publishers and editors in the audience, though, Mr. Cole said the experience of reading magazines in print will always have an appeal. "We think magazines that only contain information, those thing we don't see a bright long-term future for," he said. "Some magazines will last forever."

'15 megabytes'
Teens today still want edited content from trusted brands, but have come to expect the ability to create content like blogs, MySpace pages and videos hosted on YouTube, Mr. Cole added. "It's not 15 minutes of fame they seek; it's 15 megabytes."

Despite that, he does believe from his research that News Corp. will have a difficult time keeping teens on MySpace because of the "ephemeral nature of teenage years. Teenage online communities are like nightclubs, and when the uncool kids, or even worse, their parents, learn about it, they are out of there. It is fundamental part of teen nature to be a pioneer, and constant movement is a fact of life with teens in online communities."
Most Popular
In this article: