One Kid Speaks For All – Apparently (Web Habits of Teens Revealed)

In today’s odd – but maybe, possibly important – news, one kid in London has apparently been elected to speak on behalf of teenagers everywhere.

According to the BBC, a 15 year old kid named Matthew Robson was interning at Morgan Stanley and was asked to describe his friends’ media habits. Well, his little report is now being quoted around the world as the end-all-be-all of teen behaviors.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the kid had some interesting things to say and to prove it, I’ve posted them below. But, I do find it truly bizarre that web pundits are losing their minds over this one kid’s opinion (especially when most of what he says has pretty much already been said before). Are we really so hard up to understand teen and tween behaviors that we will hold one 15 year old up as some all knowing sage?

So, take a look at what he has to say and certainly consider it as you build your teen/tween outreach. But, let’s also get a little perspective and a whole lot of grains of salt here, people.

What kids think and do – according to one kid.


Contrary to popular belief, the majority of teens are not particularly worried about the environment. There is a small minority of youngsters who are active in attempting to help the environment, but with homework, school, friendships and often a job, teens often do not have time to help the environment. Teens may also see that the gradually-worsening environment can have benefits (global warming brings warmer weather) at this current time, but often do not consider the future risks of not attempting to save it.


Teenagers have never been avid newspaper buyers. Today’s young teens think the act of parting with up to £1 for the very same words that can been read absolutely free on a newspaper website, borders on the perverse. Why pay for something that’s free? And the “old media” is not as interesting to teens as it used to be, as it is often late with coverage of important events. For example, the death of Michael Jackson was on the web within minutes, whereas it was only in the newspapers the next morning. This does not mean there is a lack of teen intellect, it instead means that the majority of teenagers are utilising the new forms of media. Teens will often read free papers such as the Metro, which also include celebrity gossip and shocking stories and are more interesting than stories about the economy or swine flu.


A large percentage of teens prefer to get their news from popular YouTube stars, such as Philip DeFranco (general, odd news) and Michael Buckley (entertainment news), as it is presented in a more human, conversational format. YouTube is incredibly interactive; comments can be left and the presenter can be messaged; teens do not like a one-way conduit of information. It also takes out the inconvenience of having to trawl through news sources to try and find interesting stories, as news sources are often “polluted” with uninteresting news, for example, about the credit crunch or the expenses scandal. Human interest stories which either humiliate the subject or are particularly unusual are mostly preferred.


While adults may think that computer games turn teens into gangsters, murderers and thugs (in a werewolf-like transformation), they do not. Teens play games to take on the role of the character that they are playing, and to try out the situations virtually. While games may provide the player to carry out acts which would be considered to be crimes, most games still provide the player with consequences to their actions, such as being arrested, and having weapons confiscated (in game, of course). The gamer will often begin to think morally about the situations when they take on the mantle of a particular character. Furthermore, many games present teens with a positive influence, such as Guitar Hero, which I don’t doubt has encouraged many teenagers to take up the guitar.


The wide belief that teenagers are “lazy” and like to sleep in is not true. A large number of teens play sport, which regularly requires very early mornings. As well as this, most teenagers have to wake up earlier than the average adult worker to get to school on time. Also, a large amount of homework is set by multiple subject teachers, meaning that teens will have to stay up extra late to accommodate the extra tasks. Over the week (and at weekends if sport is involved) a large lack of sleep will make most people want to have a long liFe.

P.S. Special thanks to reader Evan Hart for his detective work in getting me the link to the full report from Morgan Stanley. 🙂

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