US teenagers prefer Internet to TV Carat, Yahoo! study reveals

MUMBAI: It was bound to happen. The idiot box is increasingly losing out to silicon - aka the computer. Specially as far as the youth are concerned. At least that's what a new study amongst American youth by Carat North America and portal Yahoo has revealed.

The report has revealed that young people in the US spend the maximum amount of time, on an average, each week with the Internet (16.7 hours) compared to other forms of media.

The results of the study were announced last week at "Born to be Wired: Understanding the First Wired Generation," Yahoo!'s conference for marketers, which is designed to further explore and understand the media consumption patterns of teens and young adults, and how marketers can best communicate with this group.

The survey was carried out by Harris Interactive and Teenage Research Unlimited amongst 2,618 people between the ages of 13 and 24 in June for Yahoo!.

Carat discovered that teens spend 13.6 hours each week watching TV and only six hours a week reading books or magazines for pleasure. Additionally they spend 12 hours listening to the radio and 7.7 hours talking on the phone.

The reason that the youth gave for this propensity towards the Net: it provides them control like no other medium does, especially considering the fact that users can personalise their experience online.

Apparently, teenagers are not just pfaffing around online. A study by comScore Media Metrix determined at the end of 2002 showed that teens between the ages of 12 and 17 spend a gargantuan 41.5 minutes on sites with some corporate presence. This compares to the average of 26.6 minutes each day they spend on instant messaging (IM) applications, 24.4 minutes each day on game sites.

The survey by Carat and Yahoo revealed that teenagers are using the Internet as a "hub" -- or primary media -- while other media are being used as a starting point for the online experience. It additionally disclosed that today's teens and young adults are not overwhelmed by the abundance of media choices like cable stations, networks, magazines and radio, but rather feel empowered by it and are able to multi-task -- using more than one form of media at a time -- more than any other generation.

"It is so important for marketers to understand the sea change that is taking place in media consumption habits. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the teen segments," Carat Interactive president Sarah Fay is reported to have told the rapt audience at the Yahoo conference.

She added: "This study gives us insight that helps not only to determine the appropriate media mix for reaching teens, but more importantly the role of each medium, and how the dots connect within that mix. This new information will guide us into the future as consumer media habits continue to morph toward more diverse and fragmented mediums."

With computers becoming increasingly ubiquitous in Indian homes and cybercafes spreading far and wide, it is quite likely that studies amongst India's young people will reveal that their consumption of the WWW is also going up.

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