Media Perspective: Millennium kids are media makers living in a YouTube world

By Russell Davies, russell@russelldavies.com, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 09 July 2010 12:00AM

Fortunately for a man who gets paid to prognosticate about media, I have a child who was born in the year 2000.

He's properly millennial: pumped full of zeitgeist at birth, an absolute gift for anyone looking to make sweeping assertions about a generation of media use - which is me. I've resisted using him as an example of anything up to now (the amount of strange technology in our house means he's hardly a typical kid) but the other day I ended up talking to him and his friends about TV and media and such and I thought it maybe worth passing on what they told me, to see if it hints at anything interesting about future media use.

First thing - they don't talk about using the internet. That would have been like us talking about using the cathode ray when we meant watching Blue Peter.

There's a range of things they can do on their computers: games, homework, Google, YouTube - the knowledge that some of them involve a technology called internet is unrequired and arcane.

And by far the favourite of these is YouTube - YouTube searches are my son's only incentive to learn how to spell.

I thought it telling that during the dull bits of the World Cup he was searching for uploads of the players we were watching. But he was looking for them doing tricks in games like FIFA10 - not in "real life".

I was especially intrigued to see how important bus-sides are to ten-year-olds. They use them as a measure of the significance of an advertiser.

Their web use is surrounded by banners and promotions - especially for movies and videos. But they've deduced that if a movie has the budget for mainstream media promotion, it's probably of a higher quality than one they only hear about on the internet. It's not a foolproof heuristic, but still not a bad one.

And I've realised that my son watches way more telly than I'd have imagined ten years ago - Dr Who, Total Wipeout, football, CBBC and some Cartoon Network. It's almost all used as social currency - either for him in the playground or as a way of getting us all in the room at once and not typing on our separate screens.

And TV watching is almost invariably accompanied by a second screen - IMDB determines whether a movie is likely to be appropriate, Wikipedia answers burning questions about the origins of the universe, Twitter provides banter and insight and tells us if there's something better on the other side.

But the most interesting thing about his media use? He makes his own. Animation. Video. Music. Songs. Not because of any special technology we have, but because that's part of an ordinary childhood now.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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