There’s been a bit of buzz over the past week about being able to create ringtones for the iPhone. Many of the adults I’ve heard discussing this topic have questioned the value of this service from Apple which requires one to pay about $2.00 – 99 cents for the song and 99 cents to make it into a ringtone.
Listening to these discussions and thinking about these ringtones, I was reminded of a conversation I had with a colleague a couple of years ago on the topic of buying ringtones. I was saying that I didn’t understand why teens were so into it. Then I was embarrassed by my lack of teen-like thinking when my colleague said to me something like, “But Linda, ringtones are a part of identity for teens.”
The light bulb went on. It made total sense. Who a teen is, at any given moment, can be very well demonstrated by the ringtones on a cell phone. Cell phone ringtones give teens the chance to explain to the world, through music, something about themselves. Not only that, by creating ringtones for incoming calls from friends and family, teens give musical personalities to those friends and family members.
While $2.00 might seem like a crazy amount to spend to buy something that perhaps one shouldn’t have to pay for, for many teens the $ is well worth it. It’s another opportunity to express themselves.
Think about this too. The Apple iTunes software gives teens the chance to select what clip(s) from a song to use for the ring tone. The Apple software isn’t the only one to provide this capability – just the one in the news at the moment. But, think about the skill it takes to listen to a song and select just the right 15 seconds to express yourself. That takes some thought. Also, maybe the 15 seconds a teen uses today is a different 15 seconds she would select yesterday or next week. Maybe the ring tone used today is entirely different than the one used tomorrow, next week, or next month.
Are there programs and services the library might provide related to ringtones? Libraries do sponsor programs that connect to creating and sharing playlists, but what about creating and sharing ringtones? Would a program in which teens tried to match a ringtone with the peer who made it work? Or, what if teens created playlists based on ring tones? What if contest prizes were ringtone gift certificates? There are some definite possibilities.
Thinking about ringtones over the past week reminds me once again of how important it is to remember to look at library and world events from a teen perspective. As an adult, spending money on ring tones might not make sense. But, from a teen point of view, it’s often a whole different story.