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Annual Realtime Generation Survey Reveals 13 - 17 Year Olds Are Tech Savvy, Secure And Demanding

August 2008 by Logicalis

Research commissioned by international IT solutions provider Logicalis, has revealed that today’s 13-17 year olds are becoming far savvier about managing their digital fingerprint, preferring instead to mix and match their use of mobile gadgets and social networking sites with traditional methods such as face-to-face communications, according to formal or informal correspondence. In fact, the majority (29%) would prefer to have face-time with, for example, prospective universities, than any other communications or technology medium. This is a generation that has developed its own 21st century communications etiquette.

Referred to as the ’Realtime Generation’, 78% are now not posting personal information on social networking sites, are more concerned about their security, or have stopped using these sites altogether. Furthermore, 46% admitted that social networking was less important to them, and that they were using them less frequently.

Chris Gabriel, solutions and marketing director for Logicalis, said of the findings; "Whether this is down to better parental control, the effect of media scare stories or just a growing understanding of the risks of social networking, they are now actively managing their digital fingerprints. Or is the social networking explosion starting to wane?"

Conducted annually, the survey, entitled ’The Realtime Generation - How UK 13-17 year olds are coping in a digital, dangerous and dynamic world’, aims to uncover how this age group is utilising technology, and how they are evolving their lives to cope with the ever growing opportunity to engage with, and through, work and social communications and information tools.

Whilst the Realtime Generation is able to better manage its use of technology, it still expects and demands the availability of mobile gadgets and the latest social technologies in order to best communicate, study, and work. Businesses and education establishments will therefore need to consider multi-channel communication policies that support the use of formal and informal practices.

The financial impact on the UK education sector, and government, in order to meet these expectations, though, will cost in excess of £150million per annum.

Says Gabriel; "Just as UK plc is bracing itself for the financial impact of post-graduates that expect the latest and greatest gadgets and mobile access technologies, so should universities."

Critically, the survey uncovered that this generation will consider technology and the availability of technology services a key differentiator when selecting prospective universities. Of the 1000 plus students surveyed, 46% will expect their university to provide a PC for the duration of their undergraduate tenure, or own outright - at a cost of over £150million per annum, or £300 per student, to the university sector.

Gabriel adds, "Universities that want to lure the best students will need to invest heavily to implement an IT infrastructure that will meet the expectations of this group, and maintain their competitive edge in the race for securing higher student intake. To meet this £150m price tag, it is inevitable that universities will be looking to the government, UK plc, and possibly students, to put their hands in their pockets."

Of concern to the British economy though, is that whilst the increasingly tech-savvy Realtime Generation is keen to consume new technologies and communication methods, it shows little interest in developing the next generation of innovative gadgets and services. Just 11% of respondents are planning to study sciences (2), compared to 31% opting for media courses. However, in contrast, but encouragingly, when asked about their career aspirations, 47% would consider a profession in IT.

Tom Kelly, managing director of Logicalis, comments; "This survey is deliberately targeted at an age group that is being asked to choose its education and career path. Whilst this science statistic should worry UK plc, and the governments of today and tomorrow, the message is clear; if we can educate them on the correlation between science and the gadgets they can’t live without, and spark their interest before choosing their GCSE options, we can influence the future of British industry."

Kelly concludes, "Educators and private industry need to collaborate closely on how sciences are taught. Businesses worldwide are increasingly dependent upon technology to create new markets and achieve better margins. Technology is a lucrative, thriving career option that seeks to drive down operational costs and increase innovation. In a climate whereby the future careers of the Realtime Generation could be impacted by the credit crunch, this is an opportune moment for the science and technology industry to reach out to this digital native workforce."

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