If a panel of regular people at an Internet event is to be believed, teens really do spend hours a day on MySpace and YouTube, and Microsoft needs to advertise its search more.
In what was probably the most interesting session at the Web 2.0 Summit here, Piper Jaffray analyst Safa Rashtchy brought nine people, including teens, college students and mothers, onto the stage on Thursday and asked questions about their Internet usage.
Not surprisingly, the teens reported that their favorite activities online are social networking, watching viral videos and sending instant messages.
One teenager said he and his friends watch videos on the front page of YouTube every day. "You can do that for like two or three hours a day," he said. He said he also uses AOL's instant messaging program -- "I leave it on all day."
The same teen described receiving new messages from friends on MySpace as being "like Christmas morning and you go downstairs and all the presents are under the tree."
One mother said she recently got a MySpace account because one of her sons told her she would be "hip" if she did. But then she said she learned that "my 14-year-old son is 17 (years old) on MySpace."
One of the college students said she downloads video from other users at her school through a peer-to-peer sharing program. "I download it, not legally I guess," she said, shrugging.
Another teenager said she uses Yahoo for playing online games "because it's the only thing that my school doesn't block out."
Asked their opinions on the different search engines, one woman said she likes Ask.com because she can type in a question instead of having to use keywords. Another woman said Google was her preferred search engine "if for no other reason than habit." And several people said they didn't know that Microsoft had a search engine. "I still haven't seen their search engine," one teen quipped.
Yahoo was described by one woman as being a "trusted name" that has "been around for a long time." Another woman said she used to use Yahoo Mail but then switched to Gmail.