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Media Usage Among 8-18 year olds

teen-girls-using-smartphonesChildren are our future. No brilliance in that statement. But since it’s true, we can expect our already digital world to get digital-er in the years to come.

Today’s 8-18s are truly digital natives. There’s nothing analog in their existence. That’s (mostly) good as 8-18 year olds have the ability to send and receive information in a nanosecond, and the digital world in which they lives provides this. They do not look for information in the Encyclopedia Britannica or read a printed newspaper. Encyclopedias and newspapers to them are the Model T to me—relics of an era gone bye.

They are in fact voracious consumers of media of all kinds. A recent study, called Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens, framed the usage of media among this group. The results were very interesting and paints a picture of the digital world they live in. Obviously teens (13-18) and tweens (8-12) are understandably different. The study findings were

“teenagers (ages 13-18) use an average of nine hours of entertainment media per day and that tweens (ages 8-12) use an average of six hours a day, not including time spent using media for school or homework”.

Not a surprise as there’s stronger parental guidelines on tweens than teens (Any parent of a teen knows there’s little parental influence in teenage years).

Furthermore here’s one we all know…girls and boys are different. The study finds


“major differences in media preferences between boys and girls. For example, teen boys average 56 minutes a day playing video games, compared to girls’ 7 minutes and teen girls spend 40 minutes more a day than boys on social media (1:32 vs. 52 minutes).”

A few other key findings were as follows:

On average among teens 39% of digital screen time (computers, tablets, and smartphones) is devoted to passive consumption (watching, listening, or reading), 25% to interactive content (playing games, browsing the web), 26% to communication (social media, video-chatting), and 3% to content creation (writing, coding, or making digital art or music).

TV is the media activity tweens engage in most often (62% do so “every day”); teens listen to music most often (66% “every day”).

Social media is an integral part of most teens’ lives (45% use “every day”), but it lags behind use of music (66%) and TV (58%). Only 36% of teens say they enjoy using social media “a lot” compared to 73% who enjoy listening to music “a lot,” and 45% watching TV.

And lastly teens are wicked multi-taskers:

“at least half of teens say they often or sometimes watch TV (51%), use social networking (50%), text (60%) and listen to music (76%) while doing homework.”

(This doesn’t mean that this is the best way to study—focus yields results, and distractions well, distract)

What all this means for the future is not 100% clear other than the changing media landscape will change even more. The past media consumption patterns are not predictors of the future. On the other hand, understanding changing media consumption changes are paramount. As always, delivering genuine messages at the right time and context to the right audiences has never been more important. And delivering them digitally becomes more important every day.




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