Battling Boredom

Back in the pre-digital age, teens got bored a lot. This happened when they had nothing to do or there was nothing on TV, and they generally solved the problem by going to the phone (it didn’t live in their pocket) and calling up a friend or by finding something to do in or around the house. 

Today, teens have the world in the palm of their hand in the form of a smartphone, their Internet browser as their passport, a wealth of media at their fingertips, and friends just a video call away. With services like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and video on-demand, there’s always something on or new shows to discover. An iPod or smartphone can hold several days’ worth of unrepeated listening pleasure, not to mention dozens of video games. In fact, since teens were born, some new and amazing technology has come along every few years to revolutionize their lives. Yet teens still get bored. 

The seemingly infinite number of entertainment options and devices they have to choose from aren’t enough to save them from boredom, and neither are the variety of activities and interactions with friends (real and virtual). Rather, they’re constantly awaiting the “next big thing” to shake up their world. 



Fortunately, their fellow Millennials are faced with the same problem of impending boredom and have come up with some very cool solutions. For example, teens have been getting bored with Facebook for a while now, so they’ve broadened their social media experience to include Instagram, and then Pinterest, and, most recently, Vine. Even the iPhone, which hasn’t changed significantly since its inception in 2007, is losing its cool among teens and suddenly has serious competition from other phone makers offering something fresh and new. We’ve seen a similar cooling of kids’ passions via our Young Love study. Kids’ craving for many hit technology items — from iDevices to the Wii — has waned as they await the next game-changing gadget or gotta-have-it brand to hit store shelves. 

But it’s not just technology and media that are feeling the effect of teens’ boredom. Brands in general have to keep things fresh. That sometimes means updating the product itself. For example, Lays has found success crowdsourcing three new unusual of-the-moment chip flavors this year. Brands can also demonstrate their relevance by getting creative with messaging using the latest and greatest social platforms, as Oreo has done using Vine. These brands have taken risks, but even if they had made missteps in the process, that would be better than being boring, especially among today’s teens.

The challenge for marketers is to stay on top of trends and keep things interesting for teens. They’ll thank you for helping them battle boredom not only by remaining loyal customers, but also by sharing their love for your brand on Facebook, er, Instagram, um, Pinterest, I mean, Vine…or whatever’s next.

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