January 27, 2001

According to a new study by Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU), teens describe their generation as motivated primarily by entertainment and social activity. TRU polled more than 2,000 demographically selected respondents, asking them to choose three statements from a list of 15 that characterize their peer group.

The number-one answer, chosen by 50% of respondents, was “we’re about fun.”

“Today’s teens enjoy an enormous amount of freedom, both personally and financially,” TRU Vice President Michael Wood explained. “However, they also know that their world is changing quickly and that greater responsibility is just around the corner. Consequently, many young people admit they feel pressure to squeeze as much fun into their teen years as possible.”

This need to multi-task may explain why teens’ second-place choice was the statement “high-tech is such a (huge) part of our lives.” This description got the nod from 41% of teens. “More and more teens are using technology—especially wireless communications devices like cell phones and pagers—to help them arrange and organize their social commitments,” Wood explained. This technological familiarity is an inherent characteristic of the first group to grow up fully acclimatized to personal computers.

“Intel released the 486 microchip the same year that today’s high school seniors started first grade,” Wood said. “These teens came of age surrounded by technology.” Although most teens remain upbeat about their lives and their futures, reports of school violence, the AIDS epidemic, drug abuse, and other concerns seem to have an impact on teens.
One-fourth of respondents selected the statement “we’re living in dangerous times” as most characterizing their generation.

Some of the study’s other findings include complaints that even adults can identify with; 21% of teens believe their tech-fueled world moves faster than it did in previous generations, and an equal number say they “have too much to do, and not enough time to do it.” Seventeen percent report being “overly stressed out.”

Not all teens believe these feelings are unique to their generation, however. Jamie, 17, of Hoffman Estates, Ill., explained that although technology continues to advance, the pressure such advancement brings remains constant throughout the years.

“It doesn’t matter what generation you’re in,” she said. “Think about how people felt when the light bulb and the airplane were invented; teenagers have always felt the same way.” Wood notes that with all the chaos and confusion that respondents acknowledged in the study, it is refreshing that today’s teens remain so heavily invested in having fun.

“We see this year after year,” Wood said. “No matter how their world changes around them, no matter how many obstacles they have to face, teens are still aware that they are experiencing a brief, special time in their lives. They are always determined to make the most of it.”

TRU’s syndicated Teenage Marketing & Lifestyle Study is the largest of its type, probing more than 2,000 teens on trends, lifestyles, attitudes, and consumer behaviors. Last year, TRU conducted nearly 1,000 focus groups, in addition to many in-depth interviews and customized quantitative studies. In the past 18 years, TRU has interviewed more than 300,000 teenagers.

For more information at http://www.teenresearch.com/

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