In contrast to the popular belief, teens spend far less time online on average, in both number and length of sessions than adults do.
According to new research from Jupiter Communications and Media Metrix, teens spend an average of 303 minutes online per month, compared with the adult average of 728 minutes per month – and depending on gender, teens gravitate to different sites.
Analysts advise that businesses targeting teens online must keep these differences in mind to capture those precious minutes: teen boys make surfing decisions based on their interest, whereas teen girls look for familiar brands and community.
Although teens are early adopters and tend to experiment with new and innovative online products, winning their time and attention is becoming increasingly difficult. Teens (12 to 17) spend an average of 303 minutes online over eight days per month versus younger adults (18 to 34) who spend an average of 656 minutes over 13 days per month and adults(35 to 49) who spend an average of 804 minutes over 15 days per month.
Analysts believe that the low Internet use by teens is attributed to their active schedules, with school and after-school activities; necessity of sharing online time at home with other family members; and the perception of the Internet largely as an entertainment and communication tool, not as a productivity tool.
Teen boys and girls are represented online equally but there are significant differences in the way each group uses the Internet.
Boys focus on technology, entertainment, and time diversions, seeking out games, building web pages, downloading software, and downloading music files. Girls are more goal-oriented in their surfing efforts; they gravitate toward reading online periodicals, sending electronic greetings, doing homework, and taking part in communication. Teen girls also have a high affinity for off-line brands, both in media and shopping.
In addition, boys surf more actively than girls, visiting a wider number of sites. Males averaged 301.2 unique page views, while females on average viewed 271. Boys visited, on average, 47 domains, whereas girls visited 32.
“While the online teen population is expected to continue to increase, teens will still spend a limited amount of time online,” said Anya Sacharow, Jupiter’s analyst for the kids and teen markets. “Businesses that target this audience must evaluate their content and offer elements that these teens want in order to capture any part of that limited time.
“Girls follow off-line brands online, but boys just want what they are looking for and don’t seem to care where it comes from. Strong branding and alliances with online networks sway teen girls; teen boys are technophiles largely and will look for any aspect of gaming.”
Businesses that target teens must keep in mind that this audience views the medium as of entertainment and communication tool not as a productivity tool that helps to ease day-to-day responsibilities.
In June, Jupiter and Media Metrix announced that they would merge to create the global leader in Internet information services. This effort is an example of how the companies enhance the quality of their collective products.
The teen research was unveiled at a recent Digital Kids Forum in San Francisco. Now in its fifth year, the Jupiter Digital Kids Forum is focusing on the emerging teen market and the way that businesses can approach the privacy issues, commerce deployment, and content needs of this growing online population.