Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have discovered that teenagers ascribe growing significance to virtual possessions. The research which was conducted using a sample of boys and girls aged between 12-17 found that virtual property such as photographs, online music collections, email threads and activity on social media sites, for example Facebook are valued by teens in the same manner that previous generations valued framed photographs and letters sent via snail mail.

Teenagers refered to the advantage of virtual photographs which can be quickly shared with friends. In addition virtual photographs provide young people with the ability to keep images of a partner disapproved of by their parents online so that it can be accessed either via computer or on a mobile device. Consequently the command by a parent not to display a photograph of a boyfriend or girlfriend on a teenager’s bedroom wall need not prevent the teen from having access (at any time) to a picture of their partner.

I am no teenager (when I last checked I was 42)! However I notice, in my own life that online/virtual possessions play a part. I own an Amazon Kindle which contains an ever growing library of books. Additionally I download audio titles from In both instances the books exist virtually as bits of data on my Kindle and PC rather than (as was traditionally the case) as paperback or hardback texts. I’d certainly be annoyed if I lost my virtual library, however I’d be more concerned where I to lose the traditional books which festoon my book shelves. For example I have a 10 volume braille edition of The New Oxford Book of English Verse which is bound in cloth covers. I frequently leaf through this in search of old favourites and new poems. I have an attachment to this hard-bound book which I can not imagine developing for electronic books. Perhaps this is a generational trait although I, personally believe that there will always be people who value traditional books (whether print or, in my case braille). There is something about the smell and feel of a book and (to a sighted person) the look which will always mean that there will be a demand for books in their traditional form.

For the research findings please visit


About kevinmorris101

I live and work in London and blog as a hobby. If you would like to contact me please send an email to animalia at (the address is rendered in this manner in order to try and defeat spammers)!
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