I sat near a young family on my flight to Berlin last week, and was able to listen in on a very interesting conversation on what’s currently cool with ~16 year olds.
I heard a lot about various apps, learned a lot about fashion, and was able to confirm the my suspicion that headphones are definitely a more important device of differentiation than various phone brands or operating systems. Here are some tidbits I caught:
What is the right phone?
Dad asked daughter (16ish) if she was happy with her new Android phone. Her answer was delivered in typical Dad, you bore me and you know nothing: “seriously, nobody cares if its android or apple. You and your apple things, dad!” Dad wanted to know more what people use, and the answer was that the poor (sic) kids in class had an iPhone touch, and most others had one of the relatively large android phones. And it didn’t really matter because Skype was on all anyways.
Skype groups are big
This pushed the conversation to Skype – Mum didn’t know Skype was on phones now too. Obviously “Mum, because you don’t know anything about computers”. The more interesting bit was that the group of friends in question would use Skype groups for most conversations, and getting into the right groups was the thing to be worried about. Access to and control of these groups is apparently tightly guarded and the origin of a lot of mobbing and clique behaviour. Interesting.
Whatsapp and Bbm are for nerds and the rich kids btw. Who by now are, “like, so acting like its cool but its not. It doesn’t even have good apps”.
A large part of the conversation was about fashion and the necessary brands to wear. One thing than stood out to me was the fact that this girl spoke about the actual SKU and color names of items – “I really just need the dirty melee grey workout sweater by American Apparel” (I made that name up). Kind of freaky.
Kids will be kids
Overall, the one thing that did not change since I was 16 (not very long ago, really), is the cliquey behaviour of youth, and the incredible importance of segmenting oneself into a certain niche. Getting accepted and being in the right group is the number one thing kids seem to think about.
If you are interested in these kinds of thoughts, check out Josh Miller’s article. Much more in depth than this rambling…