Gaming, Beckham and sniffing friends’ hair... it's all the rage with today's youth apparently

On Thursday 4th April I spent a morning at Mediatel's Youth, Media & Technology Event. The focus was a panel of five teenagers (aged 14-19) chatting to BBC's Torin Douglas about their media habits, what technology they couldn't live without, which brands they notice and what they think about ads.

These are the things that I came away with…

TV - they watch it a lot and love to talk about it. They have their favourite programmes and tend to find out about new things to watch via friends, promos and just flicking through the EPG (although they didn't know it was called this). Saturday night event TV with the family is still a big thing and they do like a good series to watch back-to-back when nothing else is on. Favourite programmes include Made in Chelsea, IAC, XFactor, Homeland, Neighbours, 90210, One Tree Hill & Football.

VOD - this is their main way of watching content whether catching up on TV programmes or viewing user-generated videos on YouTube. For a few the second thing they do in the morning (after checking their FB/Twitter updates on their mobile) is to put a player on and catch up on a TV programme or see what the latest YouTube clips have appeared from their subscribed sites.

Mobile - if they could keep two bits of kit in their lives, their mobile is undoubtedly one of them. Blackberries are out of favour, iPhones are the norm but Samsung mobiles are growing in popularity (especially among the boys). However, old-school Nokia is the phone of choice for one of the teenagers - retro is the new modern?

Advertising - they try to avoid ads as much as possible. When it comes to TV they PVR programmes if they can (except for their favourite ITV programmes which they tend to watch live). When online they will browse other sites until the ads are over or download an ad blocker. However, they do have their favourite ads (H&M with David Beckham, Compare the Meerkat, EE, 3Mobile's Dancing Pony) and the ones they like the best are funny or interactive.

One girl was adamant that that she wasn't influenced by advertising and when questioned on how she makes brand choices for things like toiletries, she admitted that she'd buy a new shampoo after sniffing her friend’s nice-smelling hair... not sure advertisers can do much about this?!

Social - Twitter is better than Facebook. It's faster, they don't get judged as much by their peers, it's acceptable to tweet more than three times an hour on Twitter than update their FB status that often. These teenagers are more interested in following friends than celebrities.

Shazam is used to discover new music whilst watching adverts and TV and gaming is a big part of the boys’ lives with Xbox seeming to be most popular as they are able to chat with friends while playing.

So all in all:

  • TV and VOD dominate their media lives

  • They don't go to cinema much anymore (too expensive and can watch most stuff online at home)

  • They never buy a paper and rarely buy mags

  • They only really listen to the radio in the car

  • They spend a lot of time indoors gaming and when outdoor they tend to be looking at their mobile

Always switched on

With regard down time - it doesn't happen - they're always switched on. They text in the bath, get their news from Twitter while waiting for the bus and I imagine don't pester their parents like I did when I was a kid with “I'm bored” a lot. They just go and catch-up and explore content via whichever platform is closest at the time.