They were born the year Bill Clinton moved into the Oval Office, and they’ve been raised on a diet of ever-expanding media outlets.
The high school graduating class of 2011 has grown up as wired multi-taskers — the first clutch of kids to never know life before email and the Internet as household staples. So it’s really no surprise that their TV viewing habits are markedly different from their parents and even their older siblings.
According to a report from Nielsen, contempo teenagers watch less TV than the general population. In the fourth quarter of 2010, the average American spent 34 hours and 39 minutes a week in front of the traditional tube. But for teens (defined as ages 12 to 17), TV-watching time was only 23 hours and 41 minutes per week.
In a stat that would shock parents of generations ago, today’s teens also spend far less time than other age groups yakking on the telephone. Teenagers spent an average of 515 minutes per month on the phone in the first quarter of this year, compared with 750 minutes for the 18-24 set.
So what are they doing if not watching TV or gabbing on the phone? Watching broadband video on mobile devices, for one. On average, teens with access to mobile vid devices watched 7 hours and 13 minutes of mobile video a month in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared with 4 hours 20 minutes for the general population.
And as anyone who’s been near a teenager lately can attest, the youth of America today works their fingers to the bone tapping out text messages. In the first quarter of this year, teens in the 13-17 age range sent an average of 3,364 mobile texts per month, more than double the rate of the next most active texting demo, 18-24 year olds, who churned out 1,640 texts per month.
They also spent a fair amount of time on their computers. The average 18-year-old spends 39 hours and 50 minutes online through their home computers. Of that time, five hours and 26 minutes are devoted to watching streaming online video — which is music to Netflix’s ears.