Myths and realities of teen media trends

A new report from Nielsen dispels the myth that teens are too busy texting and computing to be engaged with traditional media.

Nielsen is out with a new report on media consumption by teens and the results are counter-intuitive to what we commonly believe to be the norm. According to the How Teens Use Media report (PDF), "teens exhibit media habits that are more similar to the total population than not."

Key takeaways from the report:

  • Teens are not abandoning TV for new media: In fact, they watch more TV than ever, up 6 percent over the past five years in the U.S.
  • Teens love the Internet, but spend far less time browsing than adults: Teens spend 11 hours and 32 minutes per month online. Far below the average of 29 hours and 15 minutes.
  • Teens watch less online video than most adults, but the ads are highly engaging to them: Teens spend 35 percent less time watching online video than adults 25-34, but recall ads better when watching TV shows online than they do on television.
  • Teens read newspapers, listen to the radio, and even like advertising more than most: Teens who recall TV ads are 44 percent more likely to say they liked the ad.
  • Teens play video games, but their tastes aren't all for the blood-and-guts style games. Just two of their top five most-anticipated games since 2005 have been rated "Mature."
  • Teens' favorite TV shows, top Web sites and genre preferences across media are mostly the same as their parents: For U.S. teens, American Idol was the top show in 2008, Google the top website and general dramas are a preferred TV genre for teens around the world.

One of the more interesting findings from the report is the realization that today's teens are not uniquely wired, but are an "artifact of larger, demographically broader shifts in media behavior. Teens are wildly different--not from other consumers today, but from teens of generations past."

Follow me on Twitter @daveofdoom.

About the author

Dave Rosenberg has more than 15 years of technology and marketing experience that spans from Bell Labs to startup IPOs to open-source and cloud software companies. He is CEO and founder of Nodeable, co-founder of MuleSoft, and managing director for Hardy Way. He is an adviser to DataStax, IT Database, and Puppet Labs.


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