Internet Grabs Kids’, Teens’ Attention and Affects TV-Watching

March 10, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Media & Entertainment | Television | Videogames | Youth & Gen X

Kids’ undivided attention is no longer focused on TV – 64% of them go online while watching TV, and 49% of US teens do so frequently, anywhere from three times a week to several times a day – according to a Grunwald Associates social-networking study.

Some 73% of TV-online multitasking kids are engaged in “active multitasking,” defined as content in one medium influencing concurrent behavior in another – a 33% increase in active multitasking since 2002, Grunwald found:


With kids multitasking on TV, online, new media and digital devices, companies need to rethink their marketing strategies, the study concludes. Below, additional findings.

Though kids are using more media, their attention primarily is focused on their online activities:

  • 50% of nine- to 17-year-olds visit websites they see on TV even as they continue to watch.
  • 45% of teens have sent instant messages or email to others they knew were watching the same TV show.
  • One-third (33%) of 9-17-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.

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% say they focus on TV and online activities equally.
  • Only 11% of kids say that TV holds their primary attention while multitasking.
  • Nearly one in five (17%) say they have chosen what to watch on TV based on what they are doing online, up from 10% in 2002.

Kids and Social Media

The study also examines how kids are using online and handheld social-networking tools – and how frequently.

Kids are more than passive consumers of media: 27% of all 9-17-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 Websites, at least three times a week.

More than one in four (27%) of all students surveyed are heavy users of social-networking sites and services. Heavy users are not just shaping internet content but also influencing the online activities of their peers:

  • More than six in ten (66%) recruit their peers to visit their favorite sites.
  • Almost half (48%) promote new sites and features online to their peers.
  • Nearly four in ten (37%) recommend products to their peers and keep up with the latest brands.

“The findings of this study strongly suggest that companies should use multiple platforms – TV, online, social networking, handhelds and other interactive media to create a synergistic communications effort and a compelling, highly interactive experience for kids,” concluded Peter Grunwald, founder and president of Grunwald Associates.

About the study: The “Kids’ Social Networking Study” is composed of three parallel surveys conducted in the United States: an online survey of 1,277 9-17-year-olds, an online survey of 1,039 parents, and telephone interviews with 250 school district leaders who make decisions on internet policy. The study presents the data in numerous psychographic and demographic sets.

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