Study: Kids Are Master Multitaskers On TV, Web, Mobile


Media Post Publications

 by Tanya Irwin, Monday, Mar 10, 2008 8:00 AM ET

TELEVISION IS NO LONGER GETTING the undivided attention of kids, according to a study released today on social networking by Grunwald Associates LLC, an independent research firm that specializes in new media market intelligence.





About 64% of kids go online while watching television, and nearly half of U.S. teens (49%) report that they do so frequently–anywhere from three times a week to several times a day. Multitasking on the Internet, cell phones and MP3 players suggests that companies must respond with much more creative, multimedia marketing campaigns for their messages to penetrate.

The study reveals that 73% of TV-online multitasking kids are engaged in “active multitasking,” defined by Bethesda, Md.-based Grunwald Associates as content in one medium influencing concurrent behavior in another. This trend represents a 33% increase in active multitasking since 2002. While kids are using more media, their attention primarily and overwhelmingly is focused on their online activities.

According to the study:

  • 50% of 9- to-17-year-olds visit Web sites they see on TV even as they continue to watch,
  • 45% of teens have sent instant messages or e-mail to others they knew were watching the same TV show,
  • 33% of 9- to-17-year-olds say they have participated in online polls, entered contests, played online games or other online activities that television programs have directed them to while they are watching.

At the same time, it is clear that online activities are the primary focus of TV-online multitaskers, and an increasing determinant of what they choose to watch:

  • 47% of kids say they focus their attention primarily online while multitasking between TV and the Internet,
  • 42% of kids say they focus on TV and online activities equally,
  • Only 11% of kids say that TV holds their primary attention while multitasking, and
  • 17% say they have chosen what to watch on TV based on what they are doing online–up from 10 percent in 2002.

“Active multitasking and social networking present a tremendous opportunity to inform, engage and empower kids more deeply than ever before,” said Peter Grunwald, Grunwald Associates’ founder and president, in a statement. “At the same time, it’s important for commercial efforts to be credible and respect kids’ intelligence–and the content they produce. Kids are using social networking tools to create personal content and share their opinions with great speed, passion and influence.”

The study also examines how kids are using online and handheld social networking tools. Kids are more than passive consumers of media. About 27% of all 9- to-17-year-old kids are practiced online producers–maintaining blogs, pages or other online spaces of their own and uploading content such as articles, audio, video, polls, quizzes and site ideas that they have created to publicly available Web sites, at least three times a week.

About 27% of kids surveyed are heavy users of social networking sites and services. These heavy users are not just shaping Internet content, but also influencing the online activities of their peers. Of these heavy users:

  • 66% recruit their peers to visit their favorite sites,
  • 48% promote new sites and features online to their peers, and
  • 37% recommend products to their peers and keep up with the latest brands.

The Kids’ Social Networking Study is comprised of three parallel surveys conducted in the United States: an online survey of 1,277 9- to-17-year-olds, an online survey of 1,039 parents, and telephone interviews with 250 school district leaders who make decisions on Internet policy.




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