I consider myself well-versed in technology and the online world, even though I didn’t have a computer in the house until the age of 11 and didn’t really have the Internet as we know it today until 13 or 14.
Many of you reading didn’t even have those same experiences until well into adulthood, and some of you may still be struggling with how to deal with it all. At the extreme edge is complete rebellion against anything technological or Internet-related.
At the other end are today’s teens, who seem immersed in technology, TV, smart phones, and everything down to social media. Many of them are literally living in a parallel universe of the latest YouTube sensations, the Facebook drama of the day, or what their friends are tweeting or texting, or whatever the latest “thing to do” happens to be.
Finally, we are getting ready for the future generations of technology users, like my two-year-old son. He can, without the slightest problem or doubt, operate an iPad to get exactly the game or Netflix video he happens to be in the mood for.
What’s My Point?
In the “old days,” getting our finances in order meant using spreadsheets or Quicken, and that was considered high-tech. Think back even further, and we were using pen and paper to organize ourselves (many minimalist finance-eers still do).
The point is that each generation uses the best tools available to it. If tools begin to lack behind the latest standards and trends, we have the potential to alienate an entire generation from the benefits and necessities of financial management.
What Can We Do?
There are practical things we can encourage today’s teens to do, and ways to develop new tools to cater to this new audience as much, if not more, in need of our help. Here are a few ideas:
- Simple, bite-sized learning. Teens are using blogs, and increasingly video, to educate themselves about the world. Sites that can integrate simple, well-designed, and attention-grabbing education will help the most.
- All about social. Teens want to know what their friends, and the world, are doing at all times of the day. Finding a way to encourage and share desirable behaviors will be key.
- Online purchasing. Our educational/eBook products need to be set up in a way where we can accept payments online for maximum impact and ease of use.
- Game-like. In the world of short attention spans and Angry Birds, making finance feel like a game where you can play and win could be the key to motivating this group.
- Stunning graphics. Sites that look like they’re stuck in the 90’s or even the 2000’s are quickly forgotten. Respectable tools need that will reach teens need to have eye-popping graphics and a modern layout.
- Full integration, with the iPhone, Android, iPad, between laptops, and everything else teens are carrying around these days. It has to be seamless, automatic, and simple.
Many companies are starting to design things like this for the younger generation, and the bar is set high. Hopefully, they are stepping up by the handful to try their luck at a market share of the most web-connected generation that ever walked the planet.