retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

If todays teens and 'tweens are tomorrow's core retail customers, then a new study from the nonprofit Common Sense Media reveals that US children between the ages of eight and 12 spend more than four hours a day using devices with screens, and almost six hours a day using media of any kind. Teenagers, on the other hand, use devices with screens for more than 6.5 hours a day and close to nine hours total using various forms of media.

James Steyer, the CEO of Common Sense Media, tells the PBS NewsHour that "there is no one archetype. There is no one-size-fits-all kid. And so you have kids on social media, watching TV, listening to music, even reading books, remember them, and then doing different forms of media, but the bottom line is the sheer volume of time that kids spend today means that they have a 24/7 reality with media and technology that’s shaping their lives in so my many ways."

Steyer makes two important points here:

One is that these young people are embracing a multitasking culture: "Two-thirds of the teenagers that were surveyed say that they continue to multitask, meaning they’re on Facebook or Instagram or texting their friends, while they’re doing their homework ... They’re supposed to be reading Shakespeare, but they’re texting their friends."

Two: Despite the belief that young people's brains are wired for multitasking, t doesn't work.

"It’s a myth," Steyer says. "Some of my colleagues at Stanford University did a major study on this a couple of years ago, and showed that you simply can’t have two conversations at once and you can’t concentrate on more than one thing well. Think about how important homework it is to concentrate on information. So, the multitasking finding in this study has very big implications for schools, and also for parents giving guidance to their kids."

One of the goals of the study is to educate parents about how to establish rules of the road for their kids when it comes to the use of digital technology - in essence, teaching parents to be digitally literate so that they can guide and teach their kids effectively.

But it also holds lessons for businesses, which have to figure out how to engage with these young people as both customers and employees. They may not be able to multitask ... but they think they can, are utterly persuaded that their brains are wired differently, and are going to be influenced in ways far differently than their parents.

It is an Eye-Opener.
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