SXSW 2008: What Teens Want Online & On Their Phones

by danhon

What Teens Want Online & On Their Phones

John Davison Pres, What They Like

Anastasia Goodstein Publisher, Ypulse

Saturday, 10am, March 8 2008, Room 9, Level 3

AG: [short intro about what does] Really excited to be here this morning, we have the experts – the teens here today, want to thank a couple people – Amy and Beth, they helped me rally their local company, and I also wanna thank the kids at Austin College Prep and Aikens College High School, the kids and teachers for helping us rally these teens. When I talk about teens and technology, teens are early adopters, they’re a different kind of early adopter – tehy like shiny and new, but what’s more important – tech for them is about meetin gtheir core needs as teenagers, being able to socialise with each other, hanging out online, figuring out who they are, expressing themselves. For them, all the best bells and whisltes are fine, if it doesn’t meet those core needs, it’s probably not gonna fly. I’m going to introduce the panelists, get started with some questions, then open it up to [the audience] because you’re creatign these apps, these sites. We are having a ypulse party, it’s all ages of course, it’s at Cafe Moody, a teen band, the muse mafia. I’m going introduce you guys: Miguel Torrez, from Austin College Prep who’s 12, Casey Epinosa who’s 17, [] who’s 16, Gemila Ortega who’s 12, some tweens here, Jonathan Hobson, 16, [] who’s 14 and Alandra who’s 17.


AG: What are your favourite sites for fun, and why are they fun?

A: I like to go to this website called and I like it because it’s kind of social networking, but it also provides reviews on books and I can’t pick up a book or justify buying it without knowing that I’ll like it first, I love to read, I love English and I love all that stuff, and another site I like to go to is that has a lot of unsigned and signed bands and it’s one thing that you can get a taste of a lot of different stuff by looking up a genre, I love music, I can’t live without it.

Hazel: I like to go to myspace and facebook just because you can create your own layout and put pictures and customise your own designs and just zo you can communicate with friends and family during after school.

AG: You said family – who?

Hazel: So my sisters…

AG: So not mom?

Hazel: Not mom!

Jonathan: I use myspace and facebook, and facebook because it does addons, I use them to be connected with everyone else, if everyoen else in my school wasn’t there I wouldn’t be using it, I also use digg to stay updated with what’s going on in the world and news4gamers because I’m a hardcore gamer I like staying updated. [What’s your favourite game?] Counter-strike Source.

Gemila: I mostly go to myspace and hi5, so I can keep in touch with my friends and family over the summer or spring break because I don’t get to see them a lot somewhere I can put in my information, I like getting band’s music, I can’t live without music, and then I meet new people maybe form my school that I don’t necessarily know and we talk a lot and get to meet new friends.

AG: So Gemila, you’re 12 and you’re on myspace and how old are you on myspace?

Gemila: Um, 16?


AG: Rex?

Rex: Well of course myspace like everyone said but I also like mixmatters which is a music website, it has all the artists and the new songs before they come out and [datbiff]? it’s a mixtape website, there are albums that artists release in between their major albums different beats and songs. It has a whole bunch of new artists like people you wouldn’t know about unless you go on there and old albums and new albums keeping me up to date with my favourite artists.

AG: Do you play games as well?

Rex: Yeah, I’m a gamer. [What’s your game of choice?] I’m really itno sports games, since I got an XBox 360, I’m really into Halo 3

[]: I do not have a myspace, I get on, to keep me updated with new styles, hair, makeup, it doesn’t – I’m not quite happy with it because it doesn’t tell me how to do the hairstyles and as a playlist and you can find underground music such as people that are not famous nowadays and you can make your own playlist.

[]: I do have a myspace and I like it because you can talk to people, friends, and like hazel said family, and there’s also Runescape, and it’s an online roleplaying game and you can chat to people form allover the world and you can make new friends and add them on myspace.

AG: And how old are you on myspace?

[]: 99

AG: Let’s talk about what really annoys you – what turns you off and what makes you not want to go back? What’s the deal killer, what’s really annoying?

[]: Um, what I don’t like is that there are advertisements everywhere, there’s a popup about free xbox360, click here, it really distracts here, I want to do somethign else, but my attention is focussed on the ad and that’s what I don’t like.

[]: I would have to say the same thing as him and it also slows down the computer and your video messes up.

[So is it just popup ads?]

AG: It’s ads? Is it popup ads, any other ads? What about video?

[]: I like to go to and between every video there’s an ad for miller where everyone slaps everyone and that gets really annoying.

[Is there anything that really annoys them that’s not an ad?]

[]: REcently I had a frirend whose myspace was invaded, they had a virus, they sent me these inappropriate videos, you couldn’t delete them and they gave me a virus and that really annoys me, I left the website.

[]: Everythign else I see as kind of [] btu with ads again and if you have to go to an ad before you go to the next page, that’s really annoying, as well as ads with sound files, there’s this one that’s like ‘congratulations, you’ve one’ obviously it’s bogus but it’s still very annoying.

[]: One thing that annoys me – I know there’s a lot of stuff on websites, I know there’s a lot of work that goes into it and I learned HTML and when it takes 6000 years to load and it takes so long, and there’s so ads and it takes so long, I think that it’s, it can be fixed. Somehow, I don’t design web pages yet, I know there’s something that can be done.

[Let’s do a show of hands – who has myspace? Everyone. Facebook, everyone apart from 2. So ew’ ebeen hearing a bit about social networking fatigue, and some of you may have been on myspace longer than others, I hope, especially with the 12 year olds, do you find that you’re using the site less than you were before? Maybe a couple of youcould talk about how you used it in the beginning and now if it’s different]

[]: Well, Myspace, it really hasn’t changed for me because the whole time I’ve had it, I’ve only checked it periodically, to check if someone’s messaged me. I use facebook more because there’s addons and things my friends can get into more. That’s what I use.

[]: When I first got to Myspace I was checking it every hour or every minute to see if anyone had sent me a message and constantly going to pages to see my friends and add them all and then there was nothing else to do after I added all of them, but I’m not using it as much as I used to.

[]: When I first got my Myspace, I was 14, it was my freshman year, I was 14, it was that time when it was real popular, it was OMG you have to have a myspace, if you don’t then you’re a total lose, once I added everyone then I deleted people, one thing that’s gotten duller for me is that it’s just, they keep on updating things to try to make it better, you don’t need to, if you have it, you check it to see if you ahve messaages, you put up pictures, you do blogs, it’s not my life, if it is your life then that’s really exciting for you but it’s not [laughter] one thing that’s gotten duller about it for me.

AG: So it sounds like myspace for you guys is kinda like email. Do people still use email, do you still use it, if you do, who do you use it for?

[]: Well I use it, I created my email so I can get on myspace [laughter] whenever there’s a site I need to register for, I use that one I made for yahoo if I register for a fanclub, I use that one, I don’t use my parents address.

[]: I use email for contacting my sisters as well and I sometimes do it to contact my teachers at school when I miss my homework assignments, I ask for the homework and I get it attached and print it out, and that’s it.

[]: As a part of new tech, our campus has an email system we use to contact our teachers, so I use school email to contact friends, group members, teachers in school btu I also do business things outside school so I created an account that’s more professional to contact future employers, so when I used to do the school newspaper, it’s important to know how to write email, since myspace, since IM, we use things like lol and we abbreviate words and misspell them and I think it’s really degenerating our writing skills as a generation

AG: Teachers must love you! Does everyone still use IM?

[]: I used IM when I was younger to talk to people in school, now I don’t use it anymore.

AG: Let’s move into phones. I want you to tell everyone what phone you had, if it was what you wanted, if you were given it, the one you were gonna get and what you have on it, do you have a ringtone, do you use wallpaper, do you play games, do you text message, is it unlimited, do you have restrictions?

[]: No, I don’t have a phone

[]: I have an LG music phone I have unlimited texting and I have to text, I just have to text. I play Tetris, it’s addicting, I don’t get ringtones, I don’t get internet it’s too expensive,

[]: I Have a T-Mobile Blackberry Pearl, collegeboard sends me the SAT question of the day to my phone, I have unlimited texting, I use it a lot, more than I thought I would, I play pac man, it’s really fun to play, I have a lot of ringtones, I get my ringtones from phonzu and you can create your own, I don’t ahve internet on my phone it’s way too expensive you can send a link to your phone and download it there.

[]: I have a tracfone, my mom said I can’t have a plan because of the cost, and because I didn’t need it, I just use it for emergencies, since I already, it’s never charged. I don’t download any ringtones or wallpaper, because I can’t.

[]: Um, I’m not sure what model it is, it’s a Sprint phone, it’s an older one, it’s in 4 pieces in my pocket now, there’s nothign special on it, as long as I can give and receive calls and text messages, that’s all I need, I have emergency games on there in case I’m bored out of my mind but if I could get a better phone, I would, I’m envious of Rex over there, as long as my phone works.

[]: I have a Sony Excursion, it’s slick, it’s a slide phone, I like to slide it sometimes, when I’m bored or nervous, I slide it a lot, I usually listen to music because it has a music thing on it, but I listen to music and I talk on the phone but I don’t really text because I can’t and the games, when I play the games, I play pac man and diner dash.

[]: Um I ahve a Verizon LG Camera Phone, it was $150 with a $100 mailin rebate, I paid for it, it was fifty bucks, I use texts, I have 500 a month I pay for, it bothers friends of mine that they have unlimited texting and they use my phone to text people and I need them if you go over it’s 80c a text message it’s ridiculous, ringtones you have to pay $3 for, I have tetris, I don’t download other ringtones or wallpapers, but I use the camera a lot to take pictures of random things I see and to send them to other people and because I’m a big dork.

[Does anyone ever watch video on their phone? No?]

[]: With my camera I can record things, I record them online and I watch them on my cellphone.

[Could you live without your phones?]

Unanimous no.

[]: I’ve only ever had a phone for a week, so I can do without one, but I really like one.

[Let’s talk about virtual worlds, then I’m gonna open it up. So start getting your questions ready. There are some virtual worlds folks at the conference, avatar based sites, almost like social networking with avatars and dressing and economy, meeting people you don’t know, I know there are a couple of gamers here, do you guys go to virtual worlds, do you have an avatar, if you do, how much time do you spend on those sites, with that avatar? Give us your opinion]

[]: Um, the only avatar I have is in Runescape, I don’t like the other websites like [] or those ones like dragonquest, I don’t like them they’re copies of that game like Runescape, I’m trying to get writ strain now I work, I spend an hour at weekends in Runescape I’m working to be richer.

[]: I don’t really have like an avatar thing but the closest thing is Xbox Live I like to play people on Halo you can make good friends and enemies, I guess Xbox Live is how I live.

[]: Um I used to use swinky/zwinky? It’s really dull and boring I only spend two times a year. It’s nothing different, sometimes people ask you where you are and stuff like that, it’s gotten me really uninterested in it.

[]: So far as virtual worlds go, I’ve been registered to Runescape and Gaia Online, I’ve played many different MMOs, I’m sure that counts, I mean one thing that turns me away from them is the $15 a month, whereas I play counterstrike all year long and I’ve only paid $30 and that helps a lot, but the pay to play stuff is really dying on me, I don’t like to play that.

[So you mentioned Gaia online, do you still go there? How much time do you spend there?]

[]: About a year ago, I would roleplay using the forums, I had a friend into that, but we stopped being friends, so Gaia died on me, and I’m in highschool now, I don’t have time for that, trying to get to college.

[That’s important, Gaia is a site for teens, not younger]

[]: The only avatar I use is Yahoo! Avatar, what I like to do is change hairstyles and makeup and customise your own avatar and it’s really nice, I have a zwinki, but I don’t use it anymore because after you have to earn points and games for it, I didn’t want to play it or customise anymore.

[]: Speaking of zwinki I tried it once and it wouldnt’ let me go because I didn’t have the right flash, I have a yahoo account, I don’t really use it, when I was younger, Miguel/Jonathan’s age, I used to go to the, it had shows like degrassi, it would have a chat room, it had pixellated avatars, I used to have a… I forgot.

[Let’s open it up, so there’s a mic there, line up and let’s ask some questions]

Q: I’m from the marketing world, so we’re trying to sell things to you, and one thing we’re really into is UGC and get you guys is to take a photo and interact with our games. Like a contest?

[]: I did something for Youtube for an Air Jordan that came out 2 years ago, we made a video in the backyard, we used that Windows Media, not that, video maker or whatever it’s called, it was easy to use, I entered it, we got some hits, we got some bad comments, but that’s OK.

[]: If I had a camera, I would definitely be making stuff, entering these contests, but I do not have that luxury.

[]: I got a video camera for Christmas a couple years ago, I’ve done those contest submissions, I’ve never turned them in, I always miss the deadline, it’s really cool because when you interact with something someone’s trying to sell you, they’ll use your commercial or your music video then it makes you feel like you have a little bit of say in what someone’s trying to sell you.

[Does that make you respect that brand anymore, or make you wanna buy it more?]

[]: With me it’s, I’m a creative person, I know people in marketing have to be creative, they have to get us to buy stuff but when they open it up to the general public and say that we think you’ll be good enough to sell our product, that makes me respect them more, I know it’s hard to get people to buy stuff, if they open it, I think you’re capable of doing stuff, it makes you feel better about the company.

Q: I’m curious about content, I heard references to entertainment content, but do you consume news, political information, anything related to a cause, what would it take for you to consume that, I consider hairstyles and how to do it more substantive and the frustration that they didn’t tell you how to do that a limitation to your willingness.

[So you can talk about it for school, but also about how you get involved]

[]: Definitely using Digg, the war in Iraq I like staying updated on that, I don’t like recorded it on the directv thing, using youtube and digg and news4gamers and staying updated

[]: Um I don’t use it all that much, but right now I’m interested in the presidential candidate debate, Clinton and Obama, I like to keep up with that. I keep up with that on youtube and maybe google. Google news. Wikipedia. [Do you guys all use Wikipedia? Everybody?]

[]: One thing that’s really caught my attention and I know it’s a spoof newspaper, but the Onion, but it like, I was in the bookstore and I know someone who works at B&N and they read the headline to me and I have to read the rest of the article, things that catch my attention are funny or are a different angle, or that don’t say: this is what’s happening, the news is so dead sometimes, you just don’t want to care, I also get emails from the human rights campaign for gay and straight lesbian rights, am I right? That’s one issue, I’m not gay, but I’m not saying that it’s bad, it’s one thing that this country really needs to get over, if you get over people being gay, then you can get over being a different colour.

[Does anyone go to CNN? New York Times? No?]

[]: I sometimes go to vogue or teen or something like that but it’s just to see how, I’m about to turn 15 and my culture, you have a [] and you’re trying to figure out your dresses and shoes, I go to those website to see if they have interesting dresses.

Q: I’m Laura from PETA, do you feel you can affect change online? How do you do that?

[]: I’m not sure what it’s called and you can answer questions and it donates a grain of rice and it donates rice to Africa, that’s one thing I did.

[]: Right now, my school is doing for like 5th grade, or something and they’re growing vegetables to donate to sell to sell for the organisation and also the incident that occurred. My school’s also doing donations to help nepal. We donate the money and send cards. We’re in the process of trying to give them money to nepal and sending letters and the necessities to get clean water.

[Would you do something physical or is online just as important?]

[]: I would do physical, you interact with people, you get to know them better, you get to see their personality.

[]: I liked doing that grain of rice thing, it hid the cause inside a game, which made it more fun, it was a game, you get prizes, so hiding a cause under a game can be helpful

[]: I think a lot of people don’t help because they don’t want to volunteer and they don’t want to do physical, so things that are easy to do, are easy to help, you can do it in your home in your pajamas, it’s one thing that as far as America goes, people want an easy out to feel like they helped. That’s important.

[]: I do have a couple friends involved in PETA and on myspace they’ll leave bulletins to encourage being vegetarian, I don’t go for it, but doing stuff online definitely gets my attention such as little posts about drunk driving or whatever with graphic images it helps persuade you you don’t want to drink and drive, you see some stuff, but I’m not gonna be a vegetarian any time soon.

Q: I’m Jason from Disney Online and my question is are you watching tv shows more on your tv or your computer, are you going anywhere besides youtube?

[]: I like to watch dramas, and I go to veoh multimedia, to get foreign dramas, I watch that on winamp, it’s cool to me, I spend a lot of time on there, it’s interesting to go to another culture and to learn from the subtitles and the language you hear, I use that a lot.

[]: Um, whenever I miss a show I usually go to abcfamily and I watch it there, and when I miss another show, and I go to CBA and I watch it there

[]: I watch the DIsney channel a lot, I watch it on TV and I used to watch it on my phone there would be episodes, I could watch a special episode of Hannah Montana, I can replay, save it to my phone, also on the internet

[]: I usually use a DVR to get family guy and boondocks and taboo, a new show, real interesting, stuff on the History Channel, I’l pick out a few things, Future Weapons

[]: I like to use veoh, it’s like, I use the Boondocks so it’ll have the seasons lined up so I can click on the newest episode to watch it

[]: My friends keep me updated on Disney Channel and they’ll say watch of Sweet Life of Zack and Cody, or [] and I miss it sometimes because of homework so I go to abcfamily

[Are there any shows that you have to watch when they’re actually on?]

[]: I watch wrestling, I have to watch wrestling, especially if they’re really cute, CSI

[]: I have to watch Kyle XY and Wildfire and I know my mom won’t record them and by the time the next episodes on I’ll miss and CSI is on all the time and I love watching it and there’s never anything on tv apart from a six hour episode, shows that are episode by episode or a single episode that it doesn’t matter

[]: I watch a lot of anime, I use Veoh, if I miss something I get really mad, I watch Spanish drama, telenovelas, I love it, but it’s related to teenager stuff and it’s actual, interesting to me

Q: So I’m from the antimarketing world trying to get people to not sell you stuff, and I heard you hating all the ads on the internet, so one thing I’m working on and is this interesting to you, projects designed to stop the marketing on the internet, to break and thwart the advertising campaigns, when they ask you to make videos, telling companies we don’t want this. Would that be interesting to you? Or is that not so interesting and it’s kind of OK?

[]: It’s always going to be there, right, to help fund the website. I would help a little bit. If I didn’t see any progress, ih. I would back down and say I wasn’t associated. But some advertising, very rarely, like a new game, of course, I love to read about that and click on it and whatever. But I guess. I can help out, especially with the ‘congratulations’.

[]: I think the advertising on the pages should go with what you’re going to, if you’re on nba, I don’t want to watch a commercial about beer, I want to see stuff about new shoes coming out, advertising should stay on websites like ebay and amazon where you’re actually trying to buy something

[]: Has anyone seen that Futurama episode where they broadcast that ad to Fry’s sleep? I don’t want it to be like that. There’s everythign and I know going through media to sell things, and the economy needs to be there, I think certain things, just like Rex said there needs to be ads in some places, and in not other places, I would totally join a project to eliminate website popups.

Q: Hi, I work for an interactive advertising agency,I want to sell you everything, we build teen and tween brands, like poptarts, do you visit websites like Coke or Nike or food websites and what types have you gone to, what have you done on them, and secondly, if you have done online ads that are games, if we don’t take you away and try to be responsible is that somethign you interact with?

[]: Personally I like the little games, the sumo, I’m always distracted by those since my computer’s slow, I don’t know why I do it even though it’s going to take me to a different page, it’s addicting, but shoot the monkey I won’t play.

[Would you go to]

[]: I think there was a car insurance commercial, what next, or something like that? I saw that on tv, I had to go to that, but if pop tarts made burnt your pop tart what next? Then maybe, maybe I would look for nutritional facts, but that’s on the box.

[]: For tropicana, the only reason I went there was for free Xbox points.

Q: I’m Naomi Clark from Gamelab, I’m curious about other sites with little flash games, see how far you can hit the penguin, Miniclip, do you use those sites as you’re surfing?

[]: I kinda go to so I like doing that

[]: The computer that I use at home, my dad has a really nice laptop so I can’t use it because it’s his work laptop, my mom’s is 6,000 years old, flash games are neat, but I can’t play them because they’re really slow, but they’re really awesome, I can’t play them

[]: Since we’re at newtech and whenever you finish your work early cos you’re so smart, I like to go to any website that has games, every week people find new websites I’m always on them whenever my work’s done, I love em

[Earlier, too they were all playing games on their phone, but I don’t know if there are other sites]

[]: There’s a website called newgrounds, it’s a flash portal for anyone, I play games there, sometimes albinoblacksheep, sometimes ebaumsworld, in school, Flash game isn’t blocked, I’ll try to go to that website, same issue with Rex, I’ve played lots of flash games

[They all know how to unblock, they know how to get around proxies]

Q: I’m a teen, do you go outside? Do you put down laptops?

[]: I’m on basketball team, I’m involved in tech, I still ahve a life, I just really like tech but I still have friends and I still play sports and I still go outside

[]: I have a job at Sonic as a carhawk so I have to go outside, I’m a junior counsellor at a summer camp so I have to be outside, there’s a limit to people who are inside all day, I’m not one of them

[]: Football. Definitely football. I’m surprised I’m not obese, I’m always on the computer, there’s nothing wrong with that, right, as long as you’re healthy?

Q: I’m a teen as well, when you make plans to go out, do you do it more over myspace or facebook or in person or on the phone?

[]: I would do it in text messaging, I would forward it to everyone and they’ll reply back

[]: More in person during school we get together, let’s go something, it’s awkward because we’re always stuck in school from 7:30 to 5 and homework and we never have time to go outside so we get together on weekends or something

[]: I choose in person or on the phone, moreoever than on a bulletin on myspace, if you post a bulletin, you’re not completely sure everyone’s going to get the message, if you talk to them in person about going to the movies on Friday, they’ll get that message

[]: Just like Jon said there’s a reason they invented the telephone so I use, friends of mine have jobs and sports and I have to text them or call them but I don’t ask them over myspace, you don’t know when they’re going to get on, and that’s really lame and not a good way to make friendships

[Have any of you gone to a party based on a bulletin? No?]

Q: Obviously a hot topic is marketing, particularly on the web, I’ll squeeze in two questions: one is what is the fundamental, what is that marketers don’t get about the web, if you could have a greater say in how those marketers appear on the web, if I could tell Sony, would I welcome them more?

[]: Most ads are really annoying unless they’re really clever, I don’t like talking about them

[]: I like ones where they try to give away something for free, they say you won a million dollars, I was like ‘yeah’, now I never click on those anymore, you ahve to sign up for a million things just to get that thing

[]: I got a million dollars too

[]: I won an Xbox 360 and an iPhone

[The End]