You Know, for Kids
By Eric Lin, Mon Sep 22 22:00:00 GMT 2003

Finally, a great deal of market research has convinced US carriers that the youth market should be their next target.

Fast food chains know it. Cigarette companies know it. Even mobile operators and manufacturers in Europe and Asia know it. Now US mobile operators are finally learning that the youth market is a lucrative demographic.

In Europe and Asia, the 16-25 demographic has been at the forefront of mobile adoption. Encouraged by youth-targeted advertising and prepaid phone plans, nearly every teenager in Europe as well as countries like Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Israel, nearly every teenager and even many primary school children have mobile phones.

Teens set the trend not only for younger kids who look up to them, but also for adults who aspire to be more youthful. Now thanks to a number of studies that show exactly how low cell phone penetration is among the under 25 crowd, US mobile operators will finally begin to target them, according to a new article on MSNBC.

According to one study by IDC, only 28% of 13-19 year olds in the US have a mobile. Numbers from additional researchers are equally dismal. Prepaid service here like Boost and Virgin Mobile are trying to win over the kids, but they seem to be missing the mark, either in their advertising or in their pricing.

Now carriers are ready to set their sites on kids, but schools aren't going to make it easy on them. (Shades of the junk food in school cafeteria battles?) An AP article appeared in Wired this morning discussing the state of school policies on mobile phones and other devices. Schools, and parents are split on whether kids should actually have access to such technology. We can only hope that case studies from elsewhere will help convince schools, parents, and operators that it is ok.