MTV Study Shows Varying Attitudes Within Millennial Generation

Younger members of demo affected by recessional coming-of-age

In a bid to learn how to reinvent itself, MTV has conducted another study of today's teens and tweens, The New York Times reported.

A similar research project in 2008 gave rise to Teen Mom and Jersey Shore, shows that proved to be hits among the network's core audience of 12- to 34-year-olds. MTV's new report, "The New Millennials Will Keep Calm and Carry On," looks at younger millennials, ages 13-17.

"Millennials are the biggest generation in history, and to stay at the forefront of youth culture, we need to deeply understand the rising tide—who will soon be our core audience and new employees," MTV president Stephen K. Friedman told the Times.

The network gathered information from 1,800 respondents in online polls as well as focus groups and interviews with demographic experts. The participants were not chosen randomly, so the results may not be statistically valid, but they will be shown to programmers and marketers like Pepsi, Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

The study attributes shifting cultural attitudes to the pragmatic parenting of Gen X—once known as the MTV Generation. "Raised by idealistic boomer parents, older millennials [today's twenty-somethings] were told they were special and gifted, with a magic wand capable of changing the world," the study said. By contrast, the study reported, current teens and tweens are more realistic, having come of age during the recession.

Three-quarters of the respondents said they "worry about the negative impact that today’s economy will have on me or my future." Sixty percent are anxious about getting into a good school, while 69 percent say they put more pressure on themselves than other people put on them.

Sixty percent of the pint-sized respondents said they believe they will be worse off than their parents' generation. Fifty-one percent of the respondents agreed with the statement, "If I want to do something, no one is going to stop me," versus 71 percent in a 2010 survey.

"We are especially impressed to see how millennial teens are resiliently and optimistically responding to adversity and preparing to win in the game of life," Friedman wrote.

Another factor unifying youth culture is an undercurrent of violence. The study found that more than one-third of kids ages 14 to 17 "plot out escape plans when in public places, because of events like Sandy Hook," The L.A. Times reported. More than half of the respondents said they were scared of violence at school.

Marketers already seem aware of the younger generation's anxieties and how to assuage them with advertising, as in Pepsi's "Live For Now" campaign. Marketers will have to "use tactics to get these teenagers involved," Claudia Cahill, an intermediary between MTV and brands like Pepsi, Hewlett-Packard and State Farm, told The Times.