Teen motivation changes with every new generation. First, there was Generation X. The millennial generation grew up with the Internet, but Generation X didn’t. The postmillennials are growing up with smartphone technology, but the millennials didn’t grow up using smartphones.
Neil Howe, the author and historian who first came up with the term “millennial generation”, explains that economic and cultural changes play a larger role in influencing the generational differences. According to Neil Howe, “The Great Recession and its aftermath are likely to make the postmillennial generation more risk-averse.”
Online safety and bullying are huge concerns of parental advice to their offspring. Mr. Howe also points out that Generation X parents teach their kids to be sensitive toward the needs of others. Emotional intelligence plays a large role in the way Generation X parents raise their children today.
Mr. Howe’s consulting company, LifeCourse Associates, has learned that teenagers are sensitive when it comes to social media criticism. Today’s generation of teens is much more aware when a mobile phone application (app) affects their moods. They aren’t shy when it comes to expressing the effect apps have on their up or down emotional mood swings. Down mood swings can have a huge impact on teen motivation.
Wishbone is a social networking app that is popular with today’s teenagers. The mobile phone app consists of polls about pop culture, popular celebrities, prom outfits and other things important to today’s teens.
Michael Jones, a 40-year-old Generation Xer, and Peter Pham founded a new company called Science Inc. that owns the Wishbone mobile phone app. Mr. Jones, the chief executive of Science Inc. explains his understanding of teen motivation today. “They have immediate social validation or lack of validation at the touch of a button,” according to Michael Jones.
During a recent focus group at Science, one girl mentioned that she likes to get feedback on her Instagram posting ideas by showing them to others first before she posts them. Another focus participant deletes posts that don’t accumulate enough likes. Her explanation, “I post and I just delete, because I don’t want to have, like, never mind.” She was too ashamed to announce aloud how many likes for her posts that she received.
Wishbone views teen anxieties as business opportunities. The app doesn’t require users to take beautiful selfie pictures. Nor does the app require teens to have parents who vacation in Instagram-perfect locales. The app focuses on teen tastes and interests instead of on teen identities. Wishbone app users can create funny polls to discuss celebrities, bands, makeup and other interests today’s teens have. Teens that focus all attention away from themselves foster their own teen motivation.
Here’s a story about how using mobile phone apps influence teen motivation. Two eighth graders from Palo Alto, California were looking for free samples at their local mall. On the way, they passed by many clothing stores, but didn’t make any purchases. Wisbone is only one app that one teen uses with her friends.
One teen chose to post a few videos to Snapchat. Why didn’t she also post the same videos to Instagram? The other teen friend explained that Instagram is special. On Instagram, teens are careful not to offend the feelings of the friends receiving the photos. A steady barrage of low-quality videos and pictures might be too annoying to them. Teens also regularly delete their Instagram photos limiting the number of photographs displayed on their Instagram profiles.
App makers are careful to cater to the whims and rules teens have created for using social media channels. Each time a teen leaves an app and chooses to use another one, there is a chance that the teen will never return to using that app. Apps make money only when users who view the ads are using them. In other words, the number of monthly users for a particular app is less important than how many users each app gets per day and how long the teen will use the app.
The Wishbone app is being promoted with the idea that as people make more use of their phones and advertisers become more comfortable with placing ads on mobile phone apps, more brands and money will follow. Now the big mobile phone app advertisers are reaching out to the millennial generation. The age range of this generation is between 18 to 35 years old. They are old enough to buy cars, homes and other items with a high price tag.
However, some other mobile phone app advertisers are planning to reach out to the postmillennial generation. Teen motivation plays a large role with this group. Erna Alfred, an analyst at Forrester Research, reported that her firm receives requests for studies on the under-17 age group from financial services and media companies. Mobile phone app companies have learned that the key to a successful app is to make it a daily habit. These companies are depending upon teen motivation to use their mobile phones and apps every day.