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Mobile Youth: Graham Brown on the Voices of a Mobile Generation

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Graham D. Brown, an internationally recognized expert on mobile technology, wants you to know that just about everything you think you know about about kids, mobile phones and technology is wrong.

No really.

In his new book, Mobile Youth: Voices of Mobile Generation, Graham brings years of expertise working in the communications and youth marketing space, coupled with interviews with youth from around the world, into a compelling exploration of how the mobile youth culture revolution is driving our increasingly social and mobile future.

It's Not About Technology, It's About Relationships

While news outlets run stories warning parents of the dangers of teen ‘internet addiction’, social media and texting, (most often during ‘sweeps week’ to garner eyeballs and advertising dollars) Graham takes a more nuanced, balanced and global look at the behaviors and sociological drivers behind these mobile trends.

The book contains several case studies of how youth---from Beijing, Tokyo, L.A. and even Amish Country in rural Pennsylvania---use mobile phones as a way to connect with their families, teachers and, most importantly, their peers.

As Brown points out, the most important thing any brand, marketing campaign or youth-focused organization can do is help consumers connect with their peers. The most successful brands, whether it’s a mobile tech firm like Samsung, a food truck in Los Angeles or social media company like Twitter, provide consumers with a way to connect with each other, which in turn creates value, relevance and stickiness for your product.

And this is the real secret sauce behind of why mobile devices have become our most valuable possessions. In the end for today’s youth, it’s about using technology (mobile, social) to connect people to their friends, passions and community.

Simply stated, the emotional connection they have with their mobile phone isn’t so much about technology, it’s about relationships.

Kids and Technology: Same Behavior, Different Tools

The other important lesson, this time for parents and educators, is to take a step back and release that teen behavior hasn’t changed from when they were kids, just the tools and technology.

Think of it this way: twenty years ago, teens hung out at the mall to share ‘status updates’, stalk and make friends and, occasionally, get into trouble. And don’t forget the hours upon hours that were spent talking on the phone (the one with the curly cord) and watching TV.

These youth behaviors still happen, but now the mall is out and Facebook is in. Hours on the phone tied to the wall has been placed with SMS, KIK and Twitter. Wasting time watching TV is out and wasting time watching Hulu and YouTube is in.

Mobile Youth: Voices of Mobile Generation is a must read for anyone--youth marketers, parents, educators, youth pastors--wanting to garner a better and deeper understanding of the emotional relationship between young people and their mobile phones.

About Graham D. Brown

  • Since witnessing the growth of youth media and technology having lived in Japan in the early 90s, Graham, along with business partner Josh Dhaliwal has helped grow mobileYouth to serve over 250 clients in 60 countries worldwide - names such as Vodafone, Nokia, Coke, McDonald's, Telenor, Red Bull, Nike, Monster Energy, Orange, O2, Verizon, Boost Mobile, the UK government and the European Commission.
  • Graham is a regular public speaker and has presented at the 3GSM World Congress, Barcelona and been interviewed on CNN, CNBC, BBC TV and Radio. His work has also featured in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and the Guardian. 
  • He is author, Director and Founder, mobileYouth and Chairman & Founder of The Youth Marketing Academy. Business author & speaker on the psychology of communication and media. 
  • Graham also hosts the youth marketing stream on Upstart Radio and mobileYouth's own TV channel. Graham is also a judge on the Mobile Marketing Association's Award Panel, advisory board member to UNICEF on their mobile media strategies and an advisor to the Global Youth Marketing Forum in India.
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