Do Youth Media Habits Predict The Future Of Media?
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Do Youth Media Habits Predict The Future Of Media?

Fred Wilson wrote the other day about what observing his kids’ media habits tells him about the future of media — I’ve has a similar impulse to try to draw insights from observing real young people’s media habits.

But is this the best way to predict the future of media?

When I was a kid, I:

  • Watched a lot of cartoons
  • Watched a lot of TV generally
  • Played a lot of video games
  • Never listened to NPR
  • Didn’t read the New York Times
  • Didn’t use any text-based communication, i.e. never wrote letters

None of these are true anymore. Most striking is I don’t watch any TV. And I spend half my day communicating in text (mostly email). When I was a teenager in the late 80s, just prior to the dawn of the Web era, I’m sure newspaper publishers we’re bemoaning that kids these days don’t read newspapers.

Yet I became a newspaper reader…except that I don’t read newspapers in print…except for my local paper that arrives on my doorstep.

Who could have predicted my adults media habits by observing me in my youth? But it’s not just that I’ve changed. Media has changed so radically in the last 20 years, it would have been impossible to predict how I would grow into media.

The digital generation is undoubtedly developing biases and habits that will carry into adulthood. But they will also grow up. They will get corporate email addresses. Time they spend on Facebook will transform into time spend answering email. They will buy homes, have kids and become concerned with what’s happening in their communities. Maybe they will trust blogs as sources of news. Or maybe they will be more wary of which sources they choose because they are more savvy about the ways of the web.

Or, more likely, as happened to me, they will adopt media habits based on technology we have yet to imagine.

My four-year-old daughter loves watching Noggin on TV, and she can click her way through the games on like she was born with a mouse in her hand.

But she also loves books — more than anything else — that, perhaps, stands a chance of enduring.