It cost little to write, had no quantitative evidence to support it, but was hailed as one of the most illuminating research papers of this year. When 15-year-old Matthew Robson wrote a report on children's media habits as part of his internship at investment bank Morgan Stanley, the findings were staggering.
His How teenagers consume media paper slammed Twitter as "pointless" and said most teenagers "cannot be bothered" with newspapers, preferring to receive information on TV or online.
He said radio had long been replaced by ad-free websites such as Last.fm, while games consoles - far from being just for playing games - are used as substitute mobile phones, offering free voice chat.
Robson's revelations show how equivocal young people's media habits have become - and how traditional rules of engagement no longer apply to brands trying to connect with the youth market.
Chris Place, group head at Maxus, says: "Young people now own the media landscape. They are free to consume, reform, reshape and redistribute media to suit their own paradigm."
Even the ethics of media consumption have been questioned. Illegal downloading is still prevalent among teenagers, and children who sign up to social networking sites are often far below the minimum age. Mobile phone owners are also getting younger.
Thanks to these changing patterns, no conventional marketing laws apply. For example, MySpace may be a non-starter in the adult market, but among parts of the youth audience, it is seen as a destination for alternative creativity.
Rosemary Duff, research director at ChildWise, says: "Teenagers start to tribalise as they mature. Instead of everyone growing up in one place, their tastes and interests split and surface across all parts of the digital and offline world."
Here, Media Week breaks down the youth market into three main age brackets, presenting 21st-Century children's media evolution, from Disney to Dave.
The pre-schooler: Nought to 6 years
The fragmentation of television has created an overwhelming choice of programming for the youngest children, as long as the content meets the approval of their parents, who analysts believe act as the "gatekeeper" for this age group.
No fewer than 29 children's channels are offered on an electronic programme guide (EPG). CBeebies and Playhouse Disney fight for share in the younger end of this age bracket, while CBBC, CITV, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, CBeebies, Disney and Boomerang are among the favourites at the older end of the group.
Boys watch Ben 10, Power Rangers and Dr Who, while girls enjoy Disney High School Musical, Hannah Montana and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. Spongebob Squarepants, The Simpsons, Tom & Jerry and Horrid Henry appeal to both sexes.
Analysts believe the internet is better received by parents than it was a few years ago. ChildWise's Duff says: "Parents have become increasingly comfortable with their kids being online, and there is a more prevalent belief that the benefits outweigh the dangers. This has been helped by ‘safe' brands such as the BBC and Disney."
Internet use tends to be parent-led and often reflects TV viewing habits, with a learning element. This age group uses games sites such as Mousebreaker, Free Stuff and Funny Games, and is starting to watch video clips on YouTube.
Alan Welsman, European marketing director for Disney Interactive Media Group, says: "This is the market where parents are sitting with their children as they use the laptop, overseeing their activity. The parents do the technical bit, then the kids play the games under active supervision."
Magazines perform strongly in this age group, with parents eager to instil reading habits at an early age. Popular titles include Beano, Match, Spiderman, Toxic and Ben 10 for boys, and Bratz, Dr Who, Girl Talk and Barbie for girls.
Many parents are keen to foster good media habits as early as possible, before the child starts to find its own sense of independence, and to become distracted by the internet and mobile phones.
The pre-teen: Seven to 12 years
Pre-teens span the transition from the final years of primary school to the start of secondary school. Social networking has made huge inroads here, despite certain sites having a minimum age restriction of 13.
Daniel Coleman, client director at Mindshare, says: "By the age of seven, kids are finding their first sense of independence and maturity. This makes them more likely to take up digital media than ever before."
Pre-teens are more likely to be hanging out in Bebo and Club Penguin than on Facebook. Drawing away from parental supervision, this age group is also starting to browse the internet independently.
Two in five children aged nine to 12 have the internet in their bedroom and three in five own their own computer (source: ChildWise). Maxus's Place says: "The first stages of laying down digital roots begin here, as young people start facilitating virtual connections with friends that are paving the way towards constant contact."
ChildWise suggests that children's awareness of the outside world has developed by the age of eight and their peers' views and opinions have greater impact. Alongside the discovery of social networks, services such as MSN Messenger foster the first digital dialogues after school and at weekends. Place adds: "It is little wonder parents still occasionally observe over their child's shoulder."
But the most prevalent trend among pre-teens is the mobile phone, which gives parents a reassuring line of contact and another crucial line of communication: texting. With many young people on a pay-as-you-go tariff, voice conversations - unless crucial - are spurned in favour of other functions.
Chris Bourke, head of the Havas-owned mobile agency Mobext, says: "Mobile phones are very much considered the symbol of growing up. Owning a mobile is a sign of independence, whereas later in teenage years it acts as a brand badge."
Back in the offline world, cinema is an increasingly popular outing. Youth TGI data from autumn 2009 suggests 60% of all children aged seven to 12 visit the cinema regularly, up from 51% in 2004. Of this group, 80% said they "loved" going to the cinema.
Watching TV, children's programmes still dominate, but pre-teens also enjoy soaps and dramas. Top choices are EastEnders, The Simpsons and Friends, plus Tracy Beaker, Hollyoaks and The X Factor for girls, and Family Guy, Top Gear and The Bill for boys.
Live sports programming, such as football and rugby, provides shared occasion viewing between "lads and their dads", while appointment-to-view programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing unite families.
The teenager: 13 to 18 years
No section of the youth market is more digitally connected than teenagers. According to OTX's Beta Life Youth Market study, this group have up to eight digital gadgets in their bedroom, with access to four more in their household.
Maxus's Place says teenagers are in "constant contact", watching video clips, talking, texting and surfing the net simultaneously. They have 24-hour access to a communication platform and an instantly accessible network of friends.
Chris Stephenson, head of strategy at Vizeum, says: "By now, young people are more trusting of their peer network than most institutions or authority figures."
Ofcom's Communication Report for 2009 suggests the percentage of 15 to 24-year-olds with a profile on a social networking site has dropped for the first time, from 55% in March 2008 to 50% in March 2009.
It is believed the rise of 25 to 34-year-olds using sites such as Facebook and MySpace is driving adolescents away. Indeed, 46% of 25 to 34-year-olds claimed to have a profile on Facebook or MySpace in Q1 2009, up 6% on Q1 2008 (source: Ofcom).
By the teenage years, the mobile phone has become a "brand badge" and almost all 13 to 16-year-olds own one. Average spend on mobile is £15.50 a month, with more than 50% using their phone for videos, games and music (source: ChildWise).
Eight out of 10 13 to 16-year-olds download music using iTunes or mp3.com, but Limewire - a free but technically illegal alternative - is equally appealing.
Money is treated carefully and teenagers are unlikely to pay for things they can find for free. Will Phipps, planning director at The7Stars, says: "While reluctant to pay for music, they will pay for experiences."
According to ChildWise, 90% of 13 to 16-year-olds have digital TV at home and tastes are maturing. Favourite viewing combines soaps, adult and teen-targeted shows, with boys liking Dave, Family Guy and Mock the Week. Most viewing is done via catch-up TV or the BBC iPlayer.
Magazine consumption is also getting more sophisticated, with boys devouring titles such as Zoo, Nuts, Max Power and Top Gear, and girls favouring OK!, Heat, Sugar, Closer, Bliss and Vogue.