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different species

LONDON, United Kingdom – One of the hundreds of free seminars and events during Nokia-sponsored Social Media Week, ‘Teenagers of the species‘ covered the ways in which teenagers are different from adults, how they use social media, and how brands might get in touch with them.

Depending on how old you are, you may sometimes feel teenagers belong to a different race. And it turns out that, in some ways, you might be right. As event chair Maurice Wheeler pointed out, it’s not just raging hormones that make teenagers different.

Science bit

In fact, teenagers’ brains, particularly the frontal lobe, have not fully developed. This part of the brain is responsible for instincts like judgement, insight and emotional restraint, and might not be fully grown until you’re about 25. You may draw your own conclusions about what this might mean about teens!

Nokia UK PR manager Mark Hindle was on hand to give the benefit of his experience handling a range of recent campaigns aimed at young people. He pointed out that most PR and marketing people really don’t know what makes teens tick. Their world moves so fast and is largely secretive to the extent that it’s been really hard to work out what they’re into.


However, social media allows us easily to see the bands and other cultural reference points that are most relevant to younger people. Equipped with this knowledge, Nokia was able to approach the likes of deadmau5 and One Direction to talk about partnerships with confidence that they would resonate with young people.

Youth expert Dr Barbie Clarke revealed some interesting insights into teens’ use of social media. Over the last five years, teens have flitted from service to service, moving from the likes of Piczo as early teens, to MySpace and then to Facebook as they get older.

Now, however, she’s seen strong evidence of younger teens devoting their time to Twitter instead. She believes that many youngsters have become aware of the potentially damaging effects of over-sharing on social networks, and so the relatively anonymous and ephemeral nature of Twitter appeals to them.

Marketing expert Chris Ward agreed. He said that teens today very much live “in the moment”. He’d seen evidence of many teens deleting swathes of stored information about themselves from social networks. Thinking towards the future, Mark Hindle suggested that lifespan of brands having fan pages might well be limited as both teens and adults lock down their social networks to much smaller and tighter groups.

If you’re interested in the subject, the full video from the event is available on the Social Media Week website.

image credit: orangeacid, Lil Larkie