3 Comments »Posted on Thursday 28 May 2009 at 3:18 pm by Jacob Aron
In Inventions & Technology, Musings

Saw this on the Twitterverse and thought I’d share. Channel 4 have commissioned a piece of research into the young peoples’ relationship with technology, and I found the results quite interesting. Obviously I haven’t seen the full report, amusingly entitled A Beta Life, but here are some stats on the average 12-24 year old.

  • They personally own 8 devices (including MP3 player, PC, TV, DVD player, mobile phone, stereo, games console, and digital camera)
  • They frequently conduct over 5 activities whilst watching TV
  • 25% of them agree that “I’d rather stay at home than go on a holiday with no internet or phone access”
  • A quarter of young people interviewed text or IM (instant message) friends they are physically with at the time
  • They have on average 123 friends on their social network spaces
  • And the first thing the majority of them do when they get home is turn on their PC

I was surprised to realise that the majority of these apply to me:

  • I’m scared to even count the number of “devices” I have, but it’s certainly closer to 18 than 8.
  • Geeky as it is, I’m not a huge fan of going on holiday, and lack of web access is a factor. Thank you, inventor of the internet cafe.
  • Who hasn’t texted their friend in the pub?
  • I’ve got 113 friends on Facebook and 61 followers on Twitter. There is certainly some overlap, so I can’t be much over 123
  • The first thing I do when I get up is turn on my PC. It’s already on by the time I get home again in the evening.

The only thing I can’t fathom is conducting five activities whilst watching TV. What are these activities? All I can think of is watching TV whilst perhaps surfing/IMing on a laptop, and texting on a phone. That’s just four. Any hardcore multitaskers care to enlighten me? My personal favourite is playing video games whilst on the exercise bike, listening to podcasts. If there is some super multitasking combo out there, I’m yet to discover it.

What will the effects of this increasingly connected generation be? It doesn’t seem to be a decrease in the amount of time spent physically with others. The research found that hanging out with friends and watching TV still take up most of young adults free time. It’s just that phones, Facebook, etc allow me and my contemporaries to stay in contact even when we’re apart.

Earlier this month Seth wondered Can web 2.0 technology change our nature? and I pretty much agree with his conclusion. Whilst I doubt Facebook gives you cancer, constant connectivity is certain to change our social structures and the way we lead our lives. After all, I probably wouldn’t have even written this if it weren’t for Twitter!


  1. 3 Comments

  2. Hmmm watching TV while…

    …messing on the computer
    …listening to music
    …doodling / doing homework
    …eating dinner / snacks
    …messaging friends?

    I’ve done this in my school years, though the homework was never of good quality. Unless it was art homework.

    By Annabel on Thursday 28 May, 2009 at 3:43 pm

  3. Never eat/drink while “watching TV whilst perhaps surfing/IMing on a laptop, and texting on a phone” Jacob?

    By NOJ on Thursday 28 May, 2009 at 4:36 pm

  4. It’s certainly allowing people to experience things more communally, even when apart. How much more fun is it watching a TV programme like Surgery Live and being able to discuss it with your mates on FB/Twitter at the same time, without having to travel or wait until the next morning?

    I’m also confused by the 5 simultaneous activities (I might even read the actual report just to find out!). Unless they’re counting breathing.

    By Mun-Keat on Thursday 28 May, 2009 at 4:58 pm

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