On July 10th 2009 Morgan Stanley published the thoughts of an intern named Matthew Robson who was working with them at the time. The brief they gave him was simple; ‘to describe how he and his friends consume media’. The article travelled round the world as people jumped on it with both interest and criticism. The main issue related to the fact that people seemed to be taking the thoughts of a single teenager to be the feelings of all. Morgan Stanley said at the time that this was not the point of the piece. They simply felt it was ‘one of the clearest and most thought provoking insights they had seen’, so they published it.
With this in mind, as we realised it was exactly one year on, we thought it would be both fun and interesting to ask the summer intern working with us at M2M the same question. Our intern’s name was Alice Gallop, aged 15 years and 7 months, so naturally we called it ‘The Alice project’. We gave her the same brief as Matthew the year before, then sat back curious to find out how her response may differ. Just like Morgan Stanley we were fascinated by the response. Just like them we certainly do not claim representation or statistical accuracy from what she wrote. What we would claim however, is that we have had the pleasure of working with an intelligent, witty and insightful individual with a bright future. To that extent we are sure you will agree.
We considered showing her Matthew’s response. Instead we kept that secret and asked her to write her own thoughts. Having completed that, we showed her the report from the year before and asked for her views on what was written.
There are several elements that are different from last year. Teenagers today are still heavy consumers of and hugely influenced by media. They also believe the media would be nothing without them. Cost influences everything, press is only relevant if free or if ‘soothing a silence with an older person’. With magazines, short stories and £2 is the limit. Radio is repetitive with ever decreasing playlists. The internet is their ‘brain’ that they steal from via ctrl C, ctrl V. They couldn’t live without their phone, but Apple has replaced Sony and they threaten to leave phone companies until they break down and give them unlimited texts. And they don’t listen to music on their mobile, everyone has an iPod.
For gaming it seems PCs do have a role, while in the social world Twitter still has no place, while Facebook does. Google wins over Yahoo because it’s funnier. Posters are noticed, but ‘everbody would agree that TV is the best media source’. However, after reading Matthew’s response, we found that ‘TV’ doesn’t just mean the TV set in the living room. Cinema is dying because of internet film sites and the expense of popcorn. And finally, not all have the Bieber fever.
We hope you enjoy her written piece. We sure did. You can download the actual paper at the bottom.
Teenage Media - By Alice Gallop, aged 15 years and 7 months
When I was younger I thought of teenagers as the ultimate idols. It’s a shame that now I have grown up we seem to either annoy the older (slightly dull) generation or create another dismal Daily Mail headline. Teenagers are seen everywhere in today’s media and provide a great source of entertainment. Adults talk about teenagers like they have never been one!
Taken from a different perspective however, the media has a massive influence on the teenage community, from the TV, to magazines, to the web. Whether it is the new way to apply your eyeliner which is apparently totally quirky but honestly makes you look like you’ve been swimming with a non waterproof mascara, the £300 bag that Glamour magazine told you will be an investment, or the top new PS3 game which will leave you totally inspired but really takes up the 4 hours of your evening which were meant to be devoted to your English essay. The media gets inside our heads, it is our confident best friend.
Definitely the worst tip I’ve followed is the one that told me to hold my eye liner up to my light to create the ‘smoky eyed look’ however this ended with me having a burnt finger, a black stain on the carpet and an unhappy parent.
For those with a greater intellect/attention span, a newspaper is the way forward. I’m afraid however that politics and economics are not up my street and just no amount of parental persuasion can change that. If someone would buy me a newspaper (if I was paying I’d stick to the freebie Metro) I think I would probably go for the Sun or the Mail. I enjoy the gossip. Reading about the in and outs of what’s going on is never going to be fun, unless there is a controversial, gossipy or frankly rubbishy piece which can be handy later in the day to soothe a silence with an older person in that awkward situation.
I am very particular about the magazines I like, along with most of my friends. I don’t like magazines that give me an insight into every single specific detail of what Cheryl Cole had for dinner last night, but I also do like to be a little bit nosey about the celebrity sins. My personal favourite part of a magazine is the fashion. This is why I really dislike Vogue. Being on a £30 a month allowance, call me tight but £4.00 is definitely over board for something that is 70% adverts that I saw on the tube. Also Vogue documents the high end fashion, designers such as Chanel, Gucci and Burberry. That white £400 t-shirt in this month’s ‘must haves’ I definitely saw in Primark last week for £2. My biggest magazine crush is Glamour (£2 score!).
Radio stations seem repetitive with ever decreasing playlists. I do not want to hear Lady Gaga singing her latest hit four times in one journey. However, you can never go wrong with Capital Radio’s breakfast show. No other radio station lives up to this just because of the pure attractiveness of Johnny Vaughan. He must be doing something right because he made it onto our form’s notice board. A radio must is when we are getting ready for a party, but Capital is a no because their Saturday night remixes frankly sound like a scratched CD and make me feel a little sea sick. So Saturday nights are XFM for the win.
I couldn’t live without my phone. It’s the most beautiful thing ever. I’m more a texter than a caller, as are most people my age. We threaten to leave our phone companies until they break down and give us unlimited texts and take full advantage of this. I think a phone should be bought when you hit the teens. I got my first brick when I was 13 (it was definitely super attractive) so when my little sister got her phone at 8 I was slightly confused, I mean really? Who are you going to call, Bob the Builder? I like texting because you have at least five minutes to compose a flirty, witty reply if you’re trying to impress someone. When I call someone I usually end up saying something that I will cringe at later. I think all teenagers will definitely agree that a mobile phone is a definite must.
The internet is definitely the brain I never received. I don’t think that I have ever really done homework myself....Google, ctrl C, ctrl V, DONE IT!! However when the whole class comes in with the exact same highly illustrated and perfectly written piece, it’s not the best!
Too much time is definitely taken up on Facebook, glamour.co.uk and definitely the ultimate mylifeisaverage.com. When we talk about the internet there is always the endless Google vs Yahoo debate. To define the best internet search engine, we had a Google vs Yahoo English lesson (our school lives up to its super-selective status). We typed in searches to see what they both recommended. We typed in ‘why is’ to which Yahoo replied ‘the sky blue’ whereas Google replied ‘why is nobody suspicious of Susan Boyle’. The argument has now definitely been settled!
I’ve never been one for the Xbox and Playstation, mostly because I’m a girl and shooting people? Really? I’d rather wash my hair. But I’m a sucker for getting addicted to online games (which is double standard I guess). The first game I was deeply involved with was definitely Bubble Trouble, which started as a competition between me and my sister but ended up with everybody in the year playing. I was bitterly disappointed when I got to the 76th level and there was no more (I was more than obsessed). Then it went to Tetris, but I went off that because the noises were particularly annoying. I’ve drifted in and out with different games, but the definite best has to be Doodle Jump on the iphone. It was a risk buying the app at first (59p, I’m not made of money) but the love of Doodle Jump has expanded to ‘I love Doodle Jump’ hoodies being sold on Ebay. I doubt my addiction would go that far though!
I think everybody would agree that television is the best media source. Some teenagers claim they watch wall to wall TV to escape problems in the real world because nobody’s life hits the lows of Eastenders! But that’s a pretty depressing reason. I’m not sure there’s a hugely obvious reason why I watch TV, probably boredom and laziness! My biggest TV crush has got to be the Gossip Girl series. Mainly because of the endless amounts of gorgeous clothes and the unreal Upper East Side lifestyle, which basically I would very much like, please. Oh and everyone in it is insanely good looking! I used to be a soap freak, watching Hollyoaks and Eastenders without fail. But recently I have grown to realise how unrealistic it is and also I got bored of hearing my grandma tut every time she’d see me watching it! Teenagers are definitely the ultimate victims of TV; my parents claim that they are definitely too mature to watch TV. Yet I did spot my dad getting slightly too excited about the ‘Tracy Beaker’ double bill on CBBC yesterday. I have to say that I am a big fan of the cinema. But amongst my friends it seems I’m the only one? I suppose the astronomical price of the popcorn is not to everybody’s cup of tea, buy a cheap bag from Sainsbury’s and you’re good to go. I would say that the cinema is dying out mainly because of the internet film sites and because of the increasing tightness of us teenagers. My parents get strangely excited by the cinema; I think they see it as a ‘big night out’. Though I won’t argue if they’re paying!
Music seems to be a big part of all teenagers’ lives. I think this is mainly because music has the ability to completely change your mood. The obvious biggest music events are the festivals.
Definitely the media has a huge effect on everybody no matter what age they are. However I think that teenagers have the biggest effect on the media. They make the best stories and give media something to moan about. The media would be nothing without them.
The scanned notes she made on Matthew's paper are below: