Friday, February 4, 2011

How Wired Are Teens, Really?

My critique group occasionally ponders how to deal with technology in our manuscripts. If you don't cite it in a contemporary work are you dooming your manuscript to the bottom of the slush pile, or alienating readers if it does get published? If you do make references to technology (cell phones, the web, computers, video games) in a manuscript, will it be outdated by the time the manuscript makes it to market? What to do?

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project research shows that:

- 75% of teens have cell phones.
-The age at which kids get cell phones is around 12 or 13.
-Ownership and cell phones are not necessarily on a one-to-one basis, and teens from lower income families were more likely to have more than one cell phone (!).
- Teens text an average of 50 texts per day.
- 90% of parents have a cell phone, much higher than adults with no kids in the home.
- 90% of younger adults (ages 18 to 29) sleep with or next to their cell phone (!!).
-80% of teens have a game console.
-79% have an I-pod or MP3 player.
-69% have a computer.
-51% have portable gaming devices.

Kind of hard to avoid, huh?

And now add another layer of possibility- what country are your characters in?

Nielsen (that company that tracks consumer behavior) has info. on that in the report Mobile Youth Around the World. Check out some interesting parts of it on their blog here.

Who leads the teen world in mobile internet use? Surprise! It is not the U.S or Japan - it's China.

And although girls lead in the U.S. in SMS and MMS messaging, a teen character texting a lot in India is more likely to be male, since they FAR outstrip their female counterparts in those areas if usage, as in 70% male versus 30% female in texts, and 82% males versus 18% females in picture messaging. China and Saudi Arabia are the same way, with more males using mobile messaging, but not as drastically.

What does all this mean for a writer of content for kids? Only you can decide.

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