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The Surprising Media Habits of Teens

teens_media.jpgToday’s teen generation has been raised in an era of unprecedented media choice – internet everywhere, mobile, cable, connected tablets, time-shifted TV – the list seems almost endless.

Nielsen, a global leader in measurement and information, has put together a snapshot of the media habits of the teen generation.

Mobile Video, Texting, Social Media, Mobile Advertising – Nielsen looks at all of these in their report.

Nielsen collects information from many sources, and releases a wide variety of reports. This media habit snapshot is from their NielsenWire blog, and includes some findings that may surprise you.

• Mobile Video


Teens are the heaviest mobile video viewers, watching almost twice as much as average. Overall, mobile subscribers ages 12-17 watched 7 hours 13 minutes of mobile video a month in Q4 2010, compared to 4 hours 20 minutes for the general population.


• Mobile Advertising

Teens are actually more receptive to mobile advertising than their elders. This is in contrast to the often portrayed teen attitude of being fiercely independent and not easily influenced. In fact, more than half (58%) surveyed in September 2010 said they “always” or “sometimes” look at mobile ads.



Teens out-text all other age groups – not a surprising result, but the numbers are staggering. In Q1 2011, teens 13-17 sent an average of 3,364 mobile texts per month, more than doubling the rate of the next most active texting demo, 18-24 year olds (1,640 texts per month).


• Talking

Teens talk less on the phone than other segments of the population, something that goes against the typical image many people have of teens. Besides seniors 65-plus, teens talk the least on their phones, talking an average of 515 minutes per month in Q1 2011 versus more than 750 minutes among 18-24 year olds.

• Online Time


Teens spend less time on their computers. American 18 year olds averaged 39 hours, 50 minutes online from their home computers, of which 5 hours, 26 minutes was spent streaming online video per month.


• Social Media

Teens grew up in the age of social media. While they make up just 7.4 percent of those using social networks, 78.7 percent of 12-17 year olds visited social networks or blogs.

• TV Watching

nielsen_tv.gifTeens watch less TV than the general population. The average American watched 34 hours 39 minutes of TV per week in Q4 2010, a year-over-year increase of two minutes. Teens age 12-17 watch the least amount of TV on average (23 hours 41 minutes per week).

Nielsen has a strong history of investigating the media habits of various sectors of the population. Previously they published a very interesting study “How Teens Use Media”, which provides a more in-depth look at the way this group interacts with various types of media.

Even though it was completed almost 2 years ago, it still provides insights that are still relevant. Specifically, the study examines several common “myths” about the teenage population, and provides evidence that these are in fact no true.

For example, the study concludes that:
• Teens are NOT abandoning TV for new media.
• Teens love the Internet…but spend far less time browsing than adults.
• Teens’ favorite TV shows, top websites and genre preferences across
   media are mostly the same as those of their parents.
• Teens are not driving the growth of online video, in fact they are
   watching less than their elders.


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