MTV Networks Research Reveals Romance Challenges

A quick glance at new MTV Networks research might lead one to conclude that millennials struggling to find love might just settle for their smartphones as soul mates. Connecting the dots, however, suggests these affaires de coeur would seem to be more likely for men (insert commentary, humor here).

Here's the flow chart: 40% of 14-to-24 year-olds may be fantasizing about being William and Kate, but harbor doubts about finding a perfect match.

Meanwhile, 88% of men (18 to 49) say they love their phones, while half say they're addicted to them.

Finding love may always have been a challenge, but the research could have mothers eager for their children to walk down the aisle wondering if it hasn't gotten harder. Keeping them up at night are separate studies by MTV Networks (MTVN), one on the attitudes and disposition of the millennial generation, and another about men and smartphones done for its Spike network.

Among millennials (both genders), 45% agree that they can do without a boyfriend or girlfriend since they get "a lot of emotional support from friends."

Further, millennials may be taking themselves out of the dating game altogether for fear of getting hurt. "Half are more afraid of falling in love than having sex," researchers found.

Of course, many of them are only teenagers. Yet, as the men age up, technology may make it harder for them to find a mate.

Data shows 40% of males 18 to 49 say they "unnecessarily" look at their smartphones, "instead of interacting with people." That communication deterrence isn't likely to decline with all these new apps and online video proliferating.

So, blame it on Apple as 93% of men say they love their iPhones. But no, 89% with Android devices and 80% with Blackberrys profess the same.

Technology may also be tinkering with the dating landscape by prompting ... the veneration of nerds. With the digital wizards being the new masters of the universe, 68% of millennials say they would "rather be a nerd than a jock."

Of course, even if millennials fall in love, some of their attitudes don't exactly lend themselves to enduring relationships. Almost 70% say: "If I want to do something, no one if going to stop me."

At least some of the insight on millennials emanated from what MTVN is tabbing "Freudfests," psychotherapy-type interviews developed specifically for its study of the group.

MTVN continues to invest heavily in research initiatives. Again this week, Philippe Dauman, who heads Viacom, talked up how research has played a role in creating stronger brands and hit programming.

Increased ad dollars follow.

PowerPoint presentations to marketers aren't likely to offer theories on the future of matrimony. Implications for their business are more likely.

For millennials, the multi-layered study indicates they are not a passive generation, they want a seat at the table. So, pull rather than push marketing might be optimal. Facebook, after all, awaits for brand-bashing comments within seconds.

"They will need a voice about everything a business does - from the product itself and the way it is sold and marketed, to the social responsibility policies of the organization itself," MTVN says.

The Spike study (done in conjunction with Insight Research) offers some narrower takeways on mobile marketing and men. At least one is a potential benefit in synching TV spots and mobile messages -- in real-time.

The research has 38% of men using smartphones to look up related content while watching.

That may be an easier code to crack than how to grapple with 44% using them for social networking while watching.

"Visit our Facebook page for the chance to win a trip to Las Vegas" may not be enough.

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