Kids and technology — it might surprise you

In a culture where kids seem to want the latest and greatest technology because it’s cool or hip or they just seem to have gadget-lust, the latest study examining kids and their relationship to technology just may challenge your assumptions.

What do kids want? Do they want high-tech? Well, yes and no. Mostly, they just want to hang out with their friends.

Check it out:

The average Chinese young person has 37 online friends he or she has never met, Indian youth are most likely to see mobile phones as a status symbol, while one in three UK and US teenagers say they can’t live without their games console.

Globally, the average young person connected to digital technology has 94 phone numbers in his or her mobile phone, 78 people on a messenger buddy list and 86 people in his or her social networking community. Yet despite their technological immersion, digi-kids are not geeks — 59% of 8-14 year-old kids still prefer their TV to their PCs and only 20% of 14-24 year-old young people globally admitted to being “interested” in technology. They are, however, expert multi-taskers and able to filter different channels of information.

These are just some of the findings from the largest-ever global study undertaken by MTV and Nickelodeon, in association with Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions, into how kids and young people interact with digital technology. The Circuits of Cool/Digital Playground technology and lifestyle study challenges traditional assumptions about their relationships with digital technology, and examines the impact of culture, age and gender on technology use.

The findings basically support the very basic “kids want to hang out with other kids” model, albeit via more means than we were perhaps afforded in our youth:

The report found:
— Technology has enabled young people to have more and closer friendships thanks to constant connectivity.
— Friends influence each other as much as marketers do. Friends are as important as brands.
— Kids and young people don’t love the technology itself — they just love how it enables them to communicate all the time, express themselves and be entertained.
— Digital communications such as IM, email, social networking sites and mobile/sms are complementary to, not competitive with, TV. TV is part of young peoples’ digital conversation.
— Despite the remarkable advances in communication technology, kid and youth culture looks surprisingly familiar, with almost all young people using technology to enhance rather than replace face-to-face interaction.
— Globally, the number of friends that young males have more than doubles between the ages of 13-14 and 14-17 — it jumps from 24 to 69.
— The age group and gender that claims the largest number of friends are not girls aged 14-17, but boys aged 18-21, who have on average 70 friends.

Basically, at the end of the day, it’s not all that different from how I used to rush home from school in order to get on the phone with the friends I’d just spent all day with, I guess.

Read the whole thing to find out about cultural differences and similarities; for example, “a majority in almost every nation expressed a preference for meeting in person.” Interesting, interesting stuff.

[Hat tip: 360blog]

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