MySpace Attacked for Keeping Kids Off the Streets

As people trudge back to work, after the summer lull, there seems to be a dark cloud hanging over many people’s heads. First they decide that their lives were better twenty years ago, and now a national newspaper has launched a campaign to save their children from the perceived evils of modern life.

The Daily Telegraph’s ‘Hold onto Childhood’ campaign is striving to save our junior citizens from the ‘sinister cocktail’ of sitting on their computer, munching crisps, whilst worrying about their next exam.

Many parents might have fond memories of climbing trees and making mud pies, but the kids of today seem far too tech savvy for such simple pleasures. Even just hanging around with the kids in your neighbourhood seems a dated concept. More and more are fleeing the streets and spending their time making friends online.

The latest research figures show that the Internet is evolving and integrating into young people’s lives at an astronomical rate. Social networking sites, such as MySpace, Bebo and YouTube, have all seen their usage grow by over 300% in the last year:

“Many of the sites experiencing the fastest growth today are the ones that understand their audience’s need for expression, and have made it easy for them to share pictures, upload music and video, and provide their own commentary, thus stimulating others to do the same. It is the classic network effect at work.”

Few could have predicted (except Rupert Murdoch) that social networking sites would start occupying so much of people’s time so quickly.The Internet is being used by increasing numbers as a platform for developing relationships based on interest rather than geography.

Young people are far more web savvy than their parents and have grown up with the Internet as their primary information resource. There can be little doubt that, as they grow into the business world, they will find new and effective ways of using it to improve how they manage their professional lives.

A new study of business professionals found (in the US at least):

“more than 53 percent of respondents say the content they read in blogs has an impact on their work-related purchasing decisions. Some 80 percent of respondents say they read blogs, with 51 saying they read them at least once a week.”

I haven’t seen the previous year’s figures but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a marked rise in the usage of blogs (if not quite the 300% MySpace and co have experienced). Social networking sites are becoming the dominate domains on the Internet and appear to be developing the most influence.

Blogs have yet to penetrate the mass market and be utilised in huge numbers by regular consumers. This is largely, I believe, due to the inaccessibility of RSS to the non web savvy.

But once RSS penetrates the mass market, and you consider the growth of MySpace and usage of blogs by business professionals, isn’t it inevitable that regular consumers will follow in using blogs to assist their buying decisions?

It might not be long before kids are forced back into loitering around the streets because their parents are hogging the computer researching what HDTV to buy, or to track down that rare Elvis record they’ve been hunting all their lives.

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