Mobile Kids In AmericaIt\’s common for older generations to lament that \”kids are growing up faster these days.\” This can be associated with good news (children themselves get the idea to hold fundraisers for good causes) or bad (children get arrested for horrendous criminal activities). For mobile marketers, though, the news is very good: More than a third of U.S. youths ages 8 to 12 now have their own cell phones.

That\’s according to a new study by Nielsen Company. A survey of 5,500 so-called tweens found that 35 percent of this demographic owns a mobile. In addition, 20 percent of tweens use SMS, while 5 percent access the Internet via cell phones.

We\’ve already written about how to court the youth market with digital marketing, in the series All The Kids Are Doing It (read all five parts here, here, here, here, and here). Regular readers of this blog, then, know how important it is to use SMS, email, and other digital means of communication in order to reach the young demographic.

But the Nielsen study, which will be released in full next week, emphasizes how even the youngest of consumers are slowly being seduced by devices that let them stay in touch with friends and parents all the time, no matter where they are. Here are some specific implications – and what marketers should do about them:

    · The habit of checking one\’s text messages and sending SMS for reasons no matter how mundane, is being ingrained earlier and earlier. Therefore, marketers should consider permission-based text-message campaigns for products that appeal to consumers as young as 8 years old – perhaps books, toys, or games.
    · While only a small percentage of youths access the Web with mobile handsets right now, that number is bound to increase as consumers of all ages start using truly Internet-capable phones, thanks to the iPhone, LG\’s Voyager, and other similar devices. So marketers should start thinking of email and/or online ad campaigns that youthful eyes can read on tiny screens.
    · Parental worries should be the top concern for marketers, too. So marketers should pay close attention to laws that govern digital communications with kids, such as the federal Children\’s Online Privacy Protection Act; and should also voluntarily submit to industry-set best practices, such as those endorsed by the Mobile Market Association.

Sure, the mobile marketing possibilities with consumers ages 8-12 are almost overwhelming. But at least phone-users that young won\’t be texting and driving!

Eydie Cubarrubia
Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm
\”I\’d rather you text me\”