The UX of Disruptive Teenagers

The boys and I were at a Bat Mitzvah, which is a religious ceremony for a 13 year old girl.  She reads in front of everyone, pray pray, sing sing, go have a giant party afterwards with music too loud.  At the ceremony, there was an interesting phenonmenon.  All of the friends of the star sat together.  This isn’t surprising, as they would want to sit with their friends.  They sat as far to the back and to the side as possible.  Sort of like rats will feel more comfortable on the edge of a room rather than in the middle.

Then deep within the mass of 70 teenagers, a little tilted towards the back, were a small group of 5-10 boys.  These boys kept trying to be funny and disrupting the service, being too loud, generally screwing around.  The rabbi (chief ceremony guy), got mad a few timees at them and tried to stare them down.  He was mostly without luck.

I put my UX hat on.  There were 4 rows of seats in front of the gaggle of kids.  I would have walked back and asked the middle group of kids to move up to the front.  Or possibly, in the beginning, I would have noticed the group is large enough to support an inner chamber of disruptiveness, and moved them all up.  This would make it much harder to be disruptive.  You need the distance and security of the group to feel safe enough to act out.

Alternatively, one single adult male could have been transplanted into the middle of the group.  That male, especially one of our bold clan, would have been able to turn closely and say, “Shut up!” in a whisper.  The kids would lose their saftey bubble and feel uncomfortable acting out.

Either tactic attacks the heart of the UX.  A kid finds it harder to act out without a sense of safety and some community. By removing that safety and community, the bubble bursts.

UX, to a large measure, is the study of human behavior and how different circumstances will affect that behavior.  If you want to sell product, or product any desired outcome, you need to watch people and see how different stimulus is received.  Social experiments like this one are perfect to sharpen your skills.

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