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What’s going on in the wireless world of kids?

Is the younger generation of North America ready for the explosion of wireless capabilities about to come their way? Reactorz put the query to its panel of kids, teens and young adults ages seven to 22 and asked them what wireless technology means to them.
September 1, 2002

Is the younger generation of North America ready for the explosion of wireless capabilities about to come their way? Reactorz put the query to its panel of kids, teens and young adults ages seven to 22 and asked them what wireless technology means to them.

What we found–Not surprisingly, the majority of kids have access to (59%) or own a cell phone (46%). While fewer kids in the seven to 12 range have their own cell, almost three-quarters of them have access to a family phone. Most of the respondents stated that their first priority in having a cell phone was to be able to contact their parents and family members for emergencies. But what do they really do with them? As you may suspect, most of them are talking up their minutes with their friends.

For those who have text-messaging, they either love it or don’t use it. For those who don’t use it, it’s often because they haven’t figured out this feature since most of their friends’ cells aren’t equipped with this function–yet. They are very interested in checking their web-based e-mail and instant-messaging, but very few of them are actually using these features. The kids were largely unaware of what they could do with an Internet-enabled phone, but were quite interested in options such as checking their bank account balance or getting movie listings when suggested. Kids need to know more about these features that would be of interest to them.

We also found, particularly with the older kids, that many were concerned about costs. Even though most kids have told Reactorz that their parents spring for their phone bill, they are very aware of the current cost structures of cellular plans and savor every second used.

Kid Insight!–While they may not be buying them or paying the monthly bills, a lot of kids have access to and regularly use cell phones. Despite this market penetration, most kids are still largely unaware of the features available to them, although they seem eager to adopt the newest applications as soon as they find out about them.

What kids said about their cell phones:

‘My mom has a cell phone, and I use it all the time for playing games, talking to friends and family members, and if my sister or my parents are on the Internet. Sometimes I also phone home for a joke and say ‘cleaning service.” (girl, 10)

‘Yes, I do have a cell phone. My parents always complain about how much they have to pay, but that’s because I have a really bad deal.’ (girl, 15)

‘If someone has a cell phone, they should pay for it. My mom made me get a job so that I could afford it, but anything worth having is worth working for.’ (boy, 17)

‘My dad has a cell phone and RIM, but the Internet on these machines is really bad because the screens are small, so you don’t get HTML and it takes forever to scroll through a page.’ (girl, 12)

‘Cell phones can do anything, but the MSN chat thing is my favorite feature because you can send a message for only 10 cents and receive them for free. I wish that my phone could do something like that!’ (boy, 14)

The topics explored in this monthly column will be generated by the members of Reactorz, the youth-powered research engine of Big Orbit Inc. that helps companies find out what kids and young people ages seven to 22 are thinking, feeling and talking about. For more information about how Reactorz Research can help your business, please visit www.ReactorzResearch.com or contact Sean Bittle or Kelly Lynne Ashton at 416-516-0705 (by e-mail at business@reactorz.com).

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