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Pfffft! Teens Choose Mobiles Over Sex?

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This is a British study, which may be why the Register’s headline "Teenagers prefer mobiles to sex" made me spit coffee all over my monitor. Either times have really REALLY changed, or that’s a somewhat geocentric result.

The author’s name, Bill Ray, is enough to tip you off. I’ve never seen such a dignified incarnation of that moniker; in my neck of the woods it’s always been Billy Ray.

(Disclaimer: Billy Ray Cyrus, unfortunately, is from my hometown, along with the Judds, Ashley included, and Love Connection’s Chuck Woolery, all of whom now have streets named after them, alas.)

Bill Ray, who asks "but what if there wasn’t a vibrate function?", was referring to a study conducted by Britain-based Carphone Warehouse, called "Mobile Life," accessible at the company’s website.

When asked which they would prefer to give up, one-third of 16-24 year-olds said they’d rather give up sex than their mobiles. Maybe I (and every single last one of my friends) was and am a perv, but that’s just ri-goshdarn-diculous. However, as a future father and present stepfather, that is somewhat heartening as well.

Maybe kids aren’t as depraved as we’re inclined to think they are. After all, those that did give up their phones for a time were pleasantly surprised at how much more they got done and how much more organized and punctual they had to be (it’s harder to call in late somewhere, you see).

As for how much affect the region had on the outcome, the rest of the study findings seem in line with what I would expect to hear from my 14 year-old stepson and 12 year-old niece. So maybe there’s some hope for us that are wracked with worry that they’re all a bunch of overly-hormonal heathen sex fiends.

Maybe they’re not just like us after all – ah, the memories.

If you’re wondering what exactly this has to do with e-commerce, well, just keep in mind these are the ones we sell disposable crap to, and later, non-disposable crap. Marketers need to understand their demographics, especially as the online world becomes increasingly mobile.

Some Interesting Findings:

  • Phones are, generally, more important to the girls; Boys and younger teens prefer video games. However this trend tends to reverse in older teens. But girls still talk a lot more.
  • Even so, 74% say they text more than they talk.
  • People born since 1985 have never known life without mobile phones. (Yikes. Another regional conflict appears here, though, as the study mentions phones in "draughty halls" for important calls only. Not sure if it’s ever been like that in the States.)
  • 78% say they’re social life’s better; 70% say mobiles make life better in general.
  • A quarter feel unwanted if a day goes by without a phone call.
  • A quarter have been asked out via text (nice replacement for the paper note that always gets taken by the teacher, isn’t it?).
  • 59% say parents give them more freedom because they have a mobile.
  • A third of the ungrateful brats dodge phone calls from their parents.
  • Style matters to girls more than functionality. It’s the reverse with boys.
  • Words used to respond to possibility parents won’t buy a phone for their kids: "Sad," "Geek," and "[Their parents] should be reported to social services." (To be fair, some said they wouldn’t judge them either way.)


Pfffft! Teens Choose Mobiles Over Sex?
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