A study on the digital life of teens in Ireland
Monday, April 11th, 2011
Smartphone devices such as iPhones and Blackberries are significantly changing how Irish teens communicate, socialise and even sleep; a white paper released by the Dublin based digital media agency Arekibo reports.
Updating a 2009 report by the financial organisation Morgan Stanley, Arekibo commissioned Jack Connery, a 16 year old intern, to report Irish teens’ uses and thoughts on digital media technologies.
According to Jack’s report the lure of constant communication through Wi-Fi enabled hand-held devices, such as smartphones, are preventing teens from getting the recommended eight hours of sleep a night.
Jack says, “Getting a good night sleep is becoming harder for teenagers due to the ‘always-on’ nature of digital technologies. Leaving a mobile phone under their pillow while they sleep, in case they get a text or call, is now commonplace.”
This is caused by the increasing number of smartphones in Irish playgrounds. Tech savvy teens now opt for iPhones and Blackberries over Nokia’s array of entry-level handsets. This reported rise is fuelled by increased competition between the two main mobile operators in Ireland, Vodafone and O2, and the availability of smartphones of pre-pay tariffs.
Teens are also more willing to accept hand-me-down phones from parents and older siblings than purchase or be given a new entry-level phone.
Social media is a big draw for teens to web-enabled phones; Facebook has become the only network of worth for Irish teens. Although Jack reports that the previously dominant Bebo is still used by younger teenagers, “Bebo now acts as an introduction for younger teens to social networking, who, as they get older, graduate to Facebook.”
Jack confirms research conducted elsewhere which shows that smartphone games are competing with hand-held devices, such as the Nintendo DS and Playstation Portable, for the mobile games market.
However, Jack reports that teens are not spendthrifts. Most teens are reluctant to purchase digital content and are more likely to opt for free apps than pay. Although desired, expensive 3G internet connections are not commonplace.
This adoption of digital media by teens has provided more competition to “traditional media”, such as TV, radio and newspapers. According to Jack, “on demand services like Sky+ more suited to teens’ active lifestyles than standard broadcasts.” Jack says that when teens use traditional media they are likely to multi-task by using other devices such as laptops or mobile phones.