Why aren’t teenagers getting the message about social distancing?
It’s clear from the photos and footage of crowds out and about in the sunshine, from personal experience, and even from Government polling according to this Telegraph article (paywall), that teenagers in particular seem to be missing, or ignoring, the social distancing message. It’s not just a problem here; in the US the issue has already had extreme consequences.
Why is it such a challenge to reach this group? On the one hand, teenagers might be expected to be adept at coping with isolation as they’re so fluent when it comes to communicating remotely via social. But they also possess a psychological tendency to feel invincible at this age – an impression that will only be reinforced by the knowledge that younger people tend to be less adversely affected by Coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the public awareness push at the moment is simply not reaching them effectively, or offering content that resonates with them when it does. If you consider the press briefings, the advertising campaign, and the letters through the post, these are all communications that teenagers will immediately tune out from.
So the issue is one of communication, and the solution lies in advertising. As specialists in marketing to young people, Generation Media knows exactly how to speak to these demographics, who are trickier to target, and need specialist marketing.
Generation Z as it’s also known, is made up of kids who’ve grown up in a technology-filled world, with content available at their fingertips 24/7. They can be reached on Youtube, Tik Tok, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and gaming apps and sites; one in five of them use social media for more than five hours a day, and this proportion will obviously be considerably higher once stats for usage during lockdown are properly known. They’re content junkies, and their attention spans are shorter, due to the type of media they’re consuming and they have been overlooked as a target group during this time. The younger ‘glass generation’ children have been better catered for with the likes of explainer videos from Playmobil (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DlOGKpMNs4) and books (https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-gruffalo-illustrator-axel-scheffler-creates-book-for-kids-11970385). However, there hasn’t been any moves to appeal to teenagers using their own language and via influencers and celebrities.
So a short, simple, arresting message delivered to the environments they inhabit online is what’s needed, perhaps along the lines of summarising the danger they are posing by going out. Youtubers, celebrities, and other teen icons should pull together to help deliver the campaign, and it should be served widely across social. It needs to satisfy teenagers’ expectations of value added content as well, in order to generate responses – for example, quirky, shareable ideas for things you can do while you’re stuck at home.
When it comes to this generation, it’s not enough to just serve content to them and expect results. A campaign needs to engage, or it simply won’t get through.