Teenager Talks About What His Friends Do Online; Media Flips Out

from the someone-please-explain dept

The media seems to be falling all over itself to report on the “insights” coming out of a “report” put out by Morgan Stanley about how teens are using technology today. The report, it appears, isn’t an actual research analysis or anything. It’s just a 15-year-old intern writing about what his friends use technology-wise. That’s not to say it’s not interesting. It certainly gives a decent view of what’s happening in one kid’s social circle. Nothing in it seems all that surprising. Kids communicate a lot on the internet. They don’t buy music (oh yeah, he contradicts that “other” questionable study of the day that claimed streaming was replacing downloads by noting that his friends prefer to actually have the files, but don’t pay for them). It’s difficult to see why this is a big deal, but because Morgan Stanley put its logo on it, suddenly it’s getting a ton of coverage from Bloomberg, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Financial Times and others. It’s as if none of them have ever thought to actually ask a teenager what kind of media and technology he or she uses. But the key point here is that while there are some useful insights raised by the kid (though, nothing too surprising) it’s still just the anecdotal musings of one kid.

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Companies: morgan stanley

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Comments on “Teenager Talks About What His Friends Do Online; Media Flips Out”

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Designerfx (profile) says:

I still wonder what morgan stanley was smoking

This is too idiotically written to be written from a 15 year old. Honestly, a 15 year old INTERN at Morgan Stanley? Not many people intern at 15, let alone at wealth management company. Clearly there’s some fact checking missing here. I bet it was probably someone in a random department who asked their kid to write it for them, as the language is horrible in addition to everything being completely generalized and inaccurate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Perhaps Morgan Stanley wants to get back in the investment business, and the way to do that is to create an artificial threat.

Then perhaps they wait for businesses to come knocking on their door with business plans written on the back of cocktail napkins that Morgan Stanley can rubber stamp.

They make money in the short term, by creating a bubble and all is well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: what the hell

My experience is similar, with individuals in their teenage years being mostly restricted to console gaming, with many switching to PC gaming when they hit uni. I always figured this was related to teenagers relying largely upon a minimum wage job, and most uni students having something that pads there pocketbook a little (not much mind you) thicker, meaning that they don’t have to rely upon their parents to supply the next gaming device.

Parents rarely see the value in buying a $300 graphics card to make the PC video game friendly when the same money could by a Xbox 360 (the value lies in not having to pay for any game if you don’t want to)

Ro says:

seems valid

It is obvious from the things that he has said that this is more than just random musings. He has obviously taken the trouble to do a survey otherwise he wouldn’t have made such great use of figures and statistics, unless he is a complete idiot, and I don’t think a Morgan Stanley intern is going to be a complete idiot. Anyone who produces such reports only gets their figures by questioning a limited number of subjects so the fact that these subjects may come from a limited environment makes no difference. This report may be even more valid than a professionally commissioned report as the subjects would be likely to trust their interviewer a little more.

alan p (user link) says:

Shooting Messengers?

Mike, what makes me a tad uncomfortable here is that the criticism seems to be of the writer’s age, methodology and social class, not the message.

If he is wrong, you need to say where.

If he is broadly right, then who cares about approach – roughly right, early is always far more valuable than totally right, late.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Shooting Messengers?

Mike, what makes me a tad uncomfortable here is that the criticism seems to be of the writer’s age, methodology and social class, not the message.

If he is wrong, you need to say where.

If he is broadly right, then who cares about approach – roughly right, early is always far more valuable than totally right, late.

Er, I didn’t say he was wrong. I don’t think he is wrong. In fact, I said “It certainly gives a decent view of what’s happening in one kid’s social circle. Nothing in it seems all that surprising.”

My problem is not with the piece. It’s with the media misrepresenting what it represents. He didn’t say anything new or surprising. I didn’t say it was wrong and I’m confused how you would read my piece and interpret it that way.

Ikonoclasm says:


PC gaming has little or no place in the teenage market. This may be because usually games are released across all platforms, and whilst one can be sure a game will play on a console PC games require expensive set ups to ensure a game will play smoothly. In addition, PC games are relatively easy to pirate and download for free, so many teenagers would do this rather than buy a game. In contrast, it is near impossible to obtain a console game for free.

Huh? PC gaming is dead amongst teens, yet they download copies for free rather than buy them?

The hyperbole used in his “analysis” is so excessive as to make his points seem contradictory. Blah, blah, 15 year old, what do you expect, etc. I don’t care. Morgan Stanley should have some standards. Have they never heard of an editor? What better way to teach an intern about analyses than letting an editor hand him back his draft dripping in red?

As for the statistics of his paper, they’re meaningless. I could just as easily generate those numbers based on a gut feeling that my peers watch X hours of TV a week and, well, gee, my friends and I like football and Jimmy talks about watching ESPN and Tommy says he saw that, too, so they must watch it fairly regularly, etc. 8/10 kids downloading music sounds reasonable, and no one’s ever actually bought a CD.

Also, it is possible to buy a pirated DVD of the film at the time of release, and these cost much less than a cinema ticket so teenagers often choose this instead of going to the cinema. Some teenagers choose to download the films off the internet, but this is not favourable as the films are usually bad quality, have to be watched on a small computer screen and there is a chance that they will be malicious files and install a virus.

Wait, when did the British school system start using MPAA propaganda?

There is so much in this report that should never have been seen outside of Morgan Stanley. It’s embarrassing to see a major corporation publish something like this as anything other than a joke. All the positive press for such a poorly written analysis is definitely going to teach the kid the wrong less.

Rob R. (profile) says:

Re: Huh?

I applaud them for publishing the well written (by 15 year old standards) of an intern about the things he knows well – his and his friend’s habits. It’s an article written by a kid about kids. If you’re expecting top-notch research and perfect logic flow, then you expect a bit much from a lad. If you look at this as it is from a teen’s point of view, then he’s a lucky little SOB for not only getting published but also for grabbing international attention from it.

Stop overanalyzing and just accept that Morgan Stanley was trying to encourage the youth that is the next generation to develop some skills and this was an excellent start for him.

Ikonoclasm says:

Re: Re: Huh?

I’d argue that Morgan Stanley is teaching him the wrong lessons. There should be standards for all work, which his analysis does not meet. The educational process of fact-checking and editing multiple revisions is infinitely more valuable than Morgan Stanley trotting out their little 15 year old to impress all the financial periodicals.

Anonymous Coward says:

I felt the problem was that he referred to the teenagers in the study as “all teenagers” or “most teenagers” or whatever, as if everyone was included. I can say that this anecdotal evidence does not match up very well with the anecdotal evidence I have of my friend group. Even if he interviewed a lot of people, they were probably all his friends and friends of friends. The technology habits of teens can differ from clique to clique, from town to town, country to country. That is why you do not rely on anecdotal evidence, but properly randomized studies.

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