Responding To Kaiser's Generation M2 Study

Lots of chatter today around the study, Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds, released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the finding that young people between the ages of eight and 18 devote just under eight hours a day to media consumption (which actually adds up to more like 11 hours of media content, if you take into account all the “media multitasking”). With hefty numbers like these and the rapid increase from the last time this study was conducted in 2004, it’s easy to spin negative a la USA Today and come up with provocative headlines like “Kids less happy as they’re more plugged into TV, music, Web?”

To the piece’s credit, it does use the question as a launching point for a slightly more nuanced discussion around (surprise) moderation and striking a balance between screens and real life, but with its overall cautionary tone, the repeated catch-all description of “media consumption” and “technology’  might as well be replaced with “junk food.” Overall it just struck me as a skewed way a looking at a much more multifaceted relationship between t(w)eens and media.

What’s missing is the flipside of this type of research. Both with the so-called “happiness/media” connection and its brush off of recent studies like Mediasnacker’s The Web Makes Me Feel and MTV Sticky’s Teen Age Clicks: Understanding Global Youth Culture, which cited music, TV and social networks as generating happiness and alleviating stress, and also with the far-reaching positive potential of new media.

MacArthur has also been funding lots of research about how all of this digital media is impacting learning whether formal or informal. Watching a show and then going to a fan forum and posting about it  or interacting with other viewers during the show online is much different than…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

“There are alleys with street art that I've walked out of my way to take pictures of to share on Snapchat/Facebook.”
—Female, 32, IL

Mattel’s new toy franchise Enchantimals is inspired by Instagram and Snapchat filters. The new line of 14 dolls are all half-animal—think the bunny and deer filters—and each “shares a ritual trait with her animal friend.” Their origin and the YouTube series starring the girls are no doubt a part of Mattel’s “five-pillar strategic plan” to be a more digital brand. Appealing to Millennial parents and their kids has been a tough sell for Mattel, but they’re making moves like changing up Barbie’s body type and asking kids to pick the next big toy on TV to keep up with the next generation. (Kidscreen)

Harry Potter fans, raise your butterbeers up, because this franchise and its fandom will never die. Two more books from the Harry Potter universe are hitting shelves this fall—though they aren’t actually written by J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter: A History of Magic and Harry Potter: A Journey Through A History of Magic are instead both written by the British Library, to coincide with an exhibition dedicated to celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the first book. The two new works will include “exclusive manuscripts, sketches and illustrations from the Harry Potter archive,” to delight serious fans of the series. (USA Today, New York Times)

Restaurants are being designed with Instagrammability in mind. From unicorn foods to neon signs and tile floors with hidden messages, restaurateurs aren’t just tolerating Instagrammers, they’re intentionally acting as “Instagram bait” to earn some free press. And it doesn’t end at Instagrammable design touches. Many restaurants stress having perfect lighting, and one even provides “Instagram packs” at customer request, consisting of “a portable LED light, multi-device charger, clip-on wide-angle lens, tripod, and a selfie stick.” (The Verge, Grub Street)

Some student loan debt is getting “wiped away” in court because of missing paperwork. Students defaulting on their private loans are getting taken to court by aggressive creditors, but as it turns out, many don’t have the required documents to make them pay up. National Collegiate is at the center of many of these trials—one lawyer in Iowa represented 30 cases brought on by them, and 27 were dismissed because of “critical omissions or flaws” in the paperwork. Some Millennials prioritizing paying back debt might just catch a lucky break. (New York Times)

Millennials want older generations to know why they stand by political correctness. While some may despair the overly PC state of the world, many young consumers see political correctness as protection from prejudice, and a show of respect. What some may view as an over-sensitivity epidemic, many Millennials see as “being morally minded.” Ypulse’s PC Police trend tackled this topic, and found half of 13-33-year-olds would describe political correctness as treating others with respect, and 66% agree that political correctness is one way to make culture kinder and more inclusive. (Business Insider)

 “I’m too lazy to exercise on purpose. Too much work…If I can't get it with my dog, my job, or my nightlife, it ain't happening.”
—Female, 23, CA

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