The Multidevice Movement: Teens in France and Germany

It’s their “second skin,” their “shadow,” their morning alarm and their digital scrapbook. For many teens in France and Germany, a smartphone is not just something they own—it’s a part of their identity. And while they also use other devices in the evening, laptops and tablets have become more functional tools for entertainment and studies, rather than an indispensable extension of themselves.

To understand the emotional and rational needs different devices fulfill  in people’s lives, Facebook IQ commissioned GfK and Ipsos Media CT to conduct a study of multidevice users from around the world. In the first post of this series, we look at multidevice teens in France and Germany. We surveyed 1,000 people in France and Germany respectively, 200 of whom were teens ages 13–17 in each market.

And what we learned, for teens, is that not all devices are created equal.


Life is better with multiple screens

94% of teens in France and 98% of teens in Germany own multiple devices. And over half of surveyed teens in France and more than 4 in 10 teens in Germany own all three: a smartphone, a tablet and a desktop or laptop.

As they come of age, teens use these devices as vehicles for developing independent lives outside of their family. The majority of teens surveyed in France and Germany agree that multidevice usage has improved their lives. 40% of multidevice teens in France and 32% of multidevice teens in Germany say that using multiple devices gives them more freedom.


Hands off my smartphone

Multidevice teens in France and Germany have a very personal relationship with their smartphones, equating them to their “diary”—something that knows them well and keeps their secrets. While they feel positively about their tablets and desktops/laptops, neither holds the same emotional value as their mobile phones.



Unsurprisingly, when asked which device is their “favorite,” more than 65% of multidevice teens in France and Germany name their smartphone, almost 2X more than adults. Compared to adults, multidevice teens are also more protective of their smartphones and, unlike a home desktop, think the phone is a device that shouldn’t be shared. Only a third of teens are happy to share their smartphones with others, compared to half of adults.


Digital home away from home

Multidevice teens don’t leave home without their smartphones. And usage is constant throughout the day. Indeed, 42% of multidevice teens in France and 28% of multidevice teens in Germany say they would be devastated if they had to go without their smartphone for a few days. Always within arm’s reach, smartphones allow teens to stay connected wherever they are.



Multiscreen primetime after school

Once the school day is done, tablets and laptops come out. Teens rely on their tablets and desktop or laptops at home to boost their productivity, using these devices through the evening.



I’m studying … on my phone

Multidevice_Teens_06Though 55% of multidevice teens in France say they use their smartphone when studying or doing homework at home, only 28% say they use it for studying at home. That gap is a bit smaller in Germany, where 59% of multidevice teens use their smartphone when studying and 43% use it for studying.

But is the smartphone a study buddy or possible distraction? Although not all teens agree, 26% of multidevice teens in France and 31% in Germany admit their smartphones distract them from their studies. The reality is likely in between.

When the books have been closed and assignments turned in, smartphones facilitate relaxation and give teens a chance to have a voice. More than 1 in 3 multidevice teens in France and Germany say their smartphones make them feel relaxed and happy. And 1 in 5 say their smartphone makes it easy to get their voice or opinions heard.

From trusty sidekick to homework helper, smartphones fill a variety of rational and emotional needs for teens—they’ve truly become teens’ new confidants.


What it means for marketers

Just like their devices, brands can play a role in helping teens shape their identities as they come of age.

Provide inspiration: Multidevice teens use their smartphones for communicating and staying up to date on the world around them. Brands can earn their way into teens’ circle of trust by providing information that not only helps them feel entertained and relaxed but also keeps them from missing out.

Fulfill a spectrum of needs: Almost half of teens surveyed in France and Germany own three devices—a smartphone, a tablet and a desktop or laptop—but we know that each fulfills distinct emotional and rational needs. There’s a time for every device, and brands have the opportunity to craft meaningful messages that take into account what would resonate best with teens on their device of the moment.

Personalize messaging: Multidevice teens think of their smartphones as an extension of themselves, raising the bar for brands. To connect with teens on their most personal device, brands can harness the power of personalization and present only what’s most relevant.


Source: “Multidevice Study” by GfK (Facebook-commissioned study of people ages 13–54 in GfK’s panel who use a smartphone, tablet, desktop or laptop at least once a week in France and Germany), May–Aug 2015.