A recent report by a 15-year-old intern at Morgan Stanley about how young people access their media sent consternation through the Twittersphere. Here Solihull teenager Anna Cooban gives her take on what’s hot and what’s not in the media world.
Deemed too ‘adult’, social networking site Twitter has a battle on its hands if it wants to charm users of a younger generation.
The problem is, it is perceived by us as a platform for celebrities to divulge uninteresting information concerning their private lives – quite hypocritical really considering many of these perpetrators will readily complain over an ‘intrusion of privacy’ when the media publish intimate details they haven’t Twittered. Instead, websites such as MySpace and Facebook have proved extremely popular within our teenage society.
With more than 200 millions active users, Facebook allows teenagers to share details and form friendships. However, it is MySpace which has unintentionally cultivated a virtual community obsessed with the amount of friends and picture comments belonging to each member. No longer are our profiles an innocent ploy to instigate new relationships, they are now a social veneer used to portray a false representation of our popularity.
We feel under immense pressure to appear appreciated within our peer group, and so are consequently fixated with obtaining a high number of comments to adorn our already over-stylized profiles. Some would argue that it is both natural and expected for teenagers to feel a certain degree of constraint to conform, although others would say these social networking sites only promote unhealthy competition and have become nothing more than a indication of an ability to be accepted. Nevertheless, we are using the internet now more than ever.
This is a stark contrast to the ever-depleting teenage readership of newspapers. The traditional newspaper struggles in comparison to the introduction of online newspapers and 24-hour televised news, as these are both readily available free of cost. We will only buy a newspaper if it is presented to us with a headline of interest, as opposed to the unconditional relationship the papers have historically enjoyed with their readerships.
This would usually include some depiction of a celebrity scandal, not the hard hitting sincere tone many front pages adopt today – I simply don’t believe we want to sift through endless journalistic vigour regarding the scandalous exploitation of MPs’ expenses system. These matters appear of little or no relevance to our way of life and, therefore, the large majority of young people favour more trivial reading such as fashion and sports magazines. Television will continue to engage us without needing to try.
The very idea that you can be entertained without the need for physical activity appeals to even the most animated teenager. With many programmes such as Hollyoaks and the US import 90210 proving popular, it is clear we prefer to view programmes consisting of other teenagers experiencing the same situations and challenges.
By relating to the events on screen, we are reassured that our inner turmoils are shared by others and so, subsequently, our self-esteem is bolstered. Reality TV is also favoured by the younger generation – Britain’s Got Talent this year drew in a staggering 19 million viewers for its final whereas the ever decreasing ratings of Big Brother are perhaps a reflection of a programme which has long passed its sell-by-date. The underwhelming tactics taken by the producers, designed to supposedly ‘captivate’ us, have all been seen before. Introducing new housemates, conjuring up absurd tasks and unveiling hidden rooms no longer keep us engaged. We begin to realise that we are merely observing an assortment of puerile, naive individuals who will willingly engage in fierce confrontation over a mild confusion with the shopping list.
Radio, like so many other forms of media, was once hugely successful in attracting us.
However, since the dawn of the iPod empire, the world and its teenagers have all awakened to an entirely different form of audio entertainment. The ipod dock allows you to conveniently breeze through your music library whilst the tiresome drivel of radio ‘chat’ is eliminated.
Also, the ability to pick and choose what music you are subjected to only increases our favour for the dock. It is no mystery as to why radio listening figures have been dwindling for quite some time. When the likes of Radio One presenter Chris Moyles, who only last year outraged many by his comments on Girls Aloud star Nicola Roberts who he branded a ‘sour-faced cow’ and ‘the ginger one’, is it any wonder that many young people are turning off in their droves – it is this brazen bullying which has once again confirmed the iPod’s status as the most favoured musical listening device.
Britain’s teenagers are clearly favouring social networking sites above all others forms of media. The pressure and need to conform within our peer group ultimately motivates us into following the ‘Facebook trend’.
By constantly updating and refining our profiles, we can create an achievable illusion of ourselves. Modifying personal details to our own advantage, combined with the capability to engage in conversation with just about anyone, strongly appeals to the us.
Therefore, as a result, the number of Facebook and MySpace members significantly increased when we were all awakened to a brand new world of virtual possibilities.
* Anna Cooban, is a student at Tudor Grange School, Solihull.