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Special Report: TeenScreen: AOL creates area for teens

Building on the success of its popular on-line kids channel, America Online recently created a new on-line channel targeted specifically at teens. Launched in January, The Teen Channel (keyword: Teen) offers teens information on celebrities, fashion, music and more. Teens can...
April 1, 1998

Building on the success of its popular on-line kids channel, America Online recently created a new on-line channel targeted specifically at teens. Launched in January, The Teen Channel (keyword: Teen) offers teens information on celebrities, fashion, music and more. Teens can also discuss issues that are important in their lives, either with other teens or with expert advisors at AOL.

‘We have a really strong kids channel and we wanted a place for kids to graduate from, instead of just turning them loose,’ says Nancy Kemp, director of programming for AOL’s kids, teens and families channels.

According to Kemp, AOL launched the channel in part because teens are one of the fastest-growing demographics in the U.S.

‘Fifty percent of all teens on-line are on-line with AOL,’ says Kemp. ‘We’re really passionate about providing them with opportunities to explore and express through this medium.’

The channel is divided into four departments. One is called Fun, which encompasses entertainment-celebrities, music, television, movies. There is a Style department, which focuses on teen trends and teen styles. The Life department concentrates on issues like school and other areas of real life that interest teens. The final department, Friends, allows teens to connect with each other and communicate with other teens who have similar interests.

‘We’re learning what [teens] are really passionate about,’ says Kemp. ‘They’re not just talking mindlessly about celebrities. They have places where they can talk about dating, their faith, serious issues. And they do [talk about those issues] and that’s really gratifying and great to see.’

AOL has an agreement with Teen People, which premiered on newsstands in January, that makes the on-line edition of the magazine available exclusively on The Teen Channel. Other partners in the channel include Seventeen magazine; Plug In, an issues- and discussion-oriented Web site run by and for teens; and Youth Tech, an area run by a high-school student in Philadelphia that provides content about computers.

Being on-line does not diminish teens’ use of other media, says Kemp.

‘One thing we’ve noticed is that it’s not really a question of being on-line versus the other mediums,’ she says. ‘[Teens] are on-line in conjunction with the other mediums. They don’t just watch, for instance, Party of Five [on television]. They’ll watch Party of Five and be in a chat room at the same time and comment on [actress] Neve Campbell’s clothes or the plot.’

Kemp says reaction to the channel has been positive so far.

‘For the future of the channel and for the future of our members, we’re hoping to become a main part of on-line life [for teens],’ she says. ‘[We want kids] to grow up and remain on AOL.’

In this report:
- SmartGirl Web site in the know about teenage girls
- NBA Inside Stuff gets the inside edge on teen boys
- AOL creates area for teens
- How AOL’s Teen Channel stacks up
- Teen horror movies slash their way to a comeback

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