Blame It on the Youth by briansolis


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									Blame It on the Youth
By Brian Solis, industry-leading blogger at and principal of research firm
Altimeter Group, Author of the highly acclaimed book on social business Engage!

If you want to know where the future is headed, sometimes telling clues reside in how the youth of
the world interact and share with one another.

With the rise of the Golden Triangle of technology, mobile, social, and real-time, technology is not
just for the geeks, technology is part of our lifestyle…it is part of who we are. However, as we are all
coming to learn, it’s not in what we have, it’s in how we use it that says everything about us. In the
way we use technology, whether it’s hardware or social networks for example, the differences are
are striking.

But something disruptive, this way comes. And the truth is, it’s been a long time coming. How we
consume information is moving away from the paper we hold in our hands and also the inner
sanctum of family, the living rooms where we huddle around televisions. In fact, Forrester Research
recently published a report that documented, for the first time, we spend as much time online as we
do in front of a television. Indeed the battle for your attention will materialize across the four screens,
TV, PC, mobile, and tablets.

Sometimes however, generations collide and such is the case with social networks. While the
boomers were storming Facebook to stay connected to loved ones, young adults were expanding
their digital horizons. Even though text messaging dominates the attention and thumbs of younger
adults, the Internet is also competing for the remainder of their time. In fact, its dominance is

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
eMarketer recently published a report estimating that in 2011, 20.2 million children under 11 will go
online at least once per month from any location. Representing 39.9% of this age group, this number
is up from 15.6 million in 2008. In four short years though, online savvy children under 11 will rise to
24.9 million, which represents almost half of this young population at 47.8%.

With virtual worlds and social networks attracting younger and younger audiences, this number may
very well only represent a conservative estimate at best.

Growing Up in a Digital Utopia

Certainly every new generation experiences a revolution that alters behavior from the previous way
of life. This usually begets stories at some point in life that sound a bit like this, “You kids…you have
it so easy. In my day, we used to…”

Perhaps one of the reasons I believe that the estimates are low for online permeation across
younger demographics comes down to rapid evolution of technology and its impact on culture and
society. As we’re influenced by technology, peers, and society at large, the Golden Triangle is where
each of the three influences will source its effect. Let’s take a look at what’s hot, right now…

1. Social Networks

2. Mobile phones and geo location

3. Tablets

Perhaps what’s most interesting is the fusion of all of the above. See, we become the centerpiece in
a production that unfolds around us. And at the same time, society evolves through the coalescence
of collective consciousness and movement. We move in parallel and yet, we march to the beat of
our own drummer.

The future lies in the hands of our youth as steered by those who earn the prestigious and privileged
regard as mentor. As a father, I’m very well aware of Facebook’s minimum age requirement of 13.
However, my children, at ages 14 and 11, not only possess a Facebook profile and have for quite
some time, they are also very well connected to friends and family and digitally established in their
own right. The peer pressure to live online hit a tipping point where, as parents, we made a
thoughtful decision to enable the inevitable. As we see with businesses investing in systems for

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
training and establishing guidelines and governance, we too are helping our children better
understand the brave new world that, in some cases, they know better than us.

Again, our youth will take to the internet in droves, far greater than we imagine and the device used
to engage isn’t always going to be a PC. As evidenced by other data I examined, perhaps we can’t
just “blame it on the youth.” Perchance the blame falls upon zealous parents who thrust
their children into living a life online before they can say otherwise. While innocent in nature, the
reality is that as kids grow up, they will have presences to manage earlier, for different reasons, than
any of us have faced.

A recent study by security company AVG and Research Now surveyed 2,200 mothers in North
America (USA and Canada), the EU5 (UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain), Australia/New
Zealand and Japan, and found that 81 percent of children under the age of two currently have some
kind of digital profile or footprint, with images of them posted online. 92 percent of U.S. children have
an online presence created for them by the time they are 2 years old. In many cases, a digital
presence is born before the child, with sonograms (23%) actively published and shared on social
networks and blogs.

A 600-plus million strong network yes, but Facebook is but only one of the hundreds of digital islands
where we maintain part-time residences. YouTube, gaming networks, specialized nicheworks, and
chatrooms are also primary attention traps for our youth and adults alike.

The skyline for the attention of our youth and all of humanity is under construction and is under
constant transformation. The difference now, is that we’re marching towards a new direction. While
the destination is elusive, the panoramas we experience in our journey teach us skills that help us
steer experiences.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm. Solis is
globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published
authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and
influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and
culture. His current book, Engage, is regarded as the industry reference guide for
businesses to build and measure success in the social web.

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