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Teens Don't Use Twitter: Morgan Stanley Intern

CNBC.com
Monday, 13 Jul 2009 | 8:03 AM ET

Twitter posts are pointless, ads don’t work and music should be free. These are some of the striking claims making waves among media executives and investors from the pen of a 15-year-old intern at Morgan Stanley.

Matthew Robson was asked by the investment bank’s European media analysts to describe the media habits of himself and his friends. The ensuing report was published with the caveat that it was not claiming representation or statistical accuracy.

The results have caused some raised eyebrows in the media world as well as some serious concern, as some sectors come out with very bearish analysis.

Though many teenagers do not have the income to get advertisers clamoring for their pocket money, their habits can be seen a leading indicator for future media, the Morgan note said.

Teenagers are consuming more media, but in entirely different ways and are almost certainly not prepared to pay for it, according to Robson.

For Free Without Ads

The under 20s are shunning traditional radio for Web sites that stream music for free without ads, such as last.fm, he wrote. The users can choose what they want to listen to instead of listening to the presenters’ picks, he added.

Woman using a computer
Woman using a computer

Traditional television is also taking a hit, according to Robson, because of the option to visit online streaming services such as BBC iPlayer. Meanwhile, newspapers don’t even get a look.

“No teenager that I know of regularly reads a newspaper, as most do not have the time and cannot be bothered to read pages and pages of text while they could watch the news summarized on the internet or on TV,” he said.

“The only newspapers that are read are tabloids and freesheets mainly because of cost; teenagers are very reluctant to pay for a newspaper,” he added.

Meanwhile, video games have broken out from their core customer base of teenage boys, thanks to the emergence of consoles such as the Nintendo Wii, Robson said. Girls and younger players are consuming more gaming, he said.

Games consoles are also being used as a way to connect with friends for free, taking away reliance on phones for chatting and text, he pointed out.

Tweets are Pointless

Though “most teenagers are heavily active on a combination of social networking sites … teenagers do not use twitter,” Robson said.

“Most have signed up to the service, but then just leave it as they release that they are not going to update it … they realize that no one is viewing their profile, so their ‘tweets’ are pointless,” he said.

Facebook remains popular with teenagers, according to Robson, “with nearly everyone with an internet connection registered and visiting.”

As feared by music retailers, teenagers are very reluctant to pay for music and the majority of them download it illegally from file sharing sites, he said.

Cinema groups and concert organizers should be cheered up by the intern’s report, however. It says that teenagers are willing to dedicate time and money to go and see a good concert or film in the cinema.

Read Robson's report here

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