Teens survive on digital oxygen – Kaiser Generation M2 Study

Digital technology is oxygen for Western teens – they can’t live without it. They now officially spend way more time consuming media than they do at school or sleeping.

The Kaiser Foundation in the USA recently released its latest study of the media consumption habits of 8-18yr olds called Generation M2, n = 2,000 kids aged 8-18. The full presentation is here. There are some really interesting insights and all the numbers support my belief that youth today are living in a state of continuous partial attention based on their dependence on a digital lifestyle.  Some of the US stats which I pulled out from the deck are:


–          8-18yr olds spend 7.5hrs a day consuming media, however due to multitasking they cram 10.45hrs of media exposure into those 7.5hrs.

–          11-14yr olds have the highest media exposure at a staggering 11.53hrs a day (8-10yr olds media exposure is 7.51hrs a day)

–          African American and Hispanic youth have the highest media exposure with 13hrs a day compared to Anglo American youth with 8.36hrs a day.

–          56% multitask while doing homework on at least 4 devices


–          TV is still king, 4.29hrs a day spent on TV content (59% live TV, 12% DVD, 12% mobile, 9% online)

–          Per day 10-14yr olds spend 5hrs on TV, 2hrs 20mins on a computer online, 1hr 46mins listening to music and 1hr 25mins gaming.

–          70% of 8-18yr olds have a TV in their bedrooms

–          67% of households have the TV on during mealtime

–          8-18yr  olds spend 33mins a day talking on their mobiles, 17mins playing games, 17mins listening to music and 15mins engaging with content (49mins consuming media on their mobiles)

–          33% of teens have web access in their bedroom lairs

–          25% of their time online is spent social networking, 19% playing games and 16% on video sites

–          8-18yr olds spend 2.5hrs a day on music, 29% of that time on ipod, 23% on a computer and 12% on a cell

–          Consumption of print media has dropped from 43mins in 2004, to 38mins in ‘09

–          Only 33% of families have media consumption rules

Digital Media for Kids – creating content that travels

Interesting speech by Michael Levine at TED Atlanta recently on the impact of emerging digital media on kids learning.  He covered some interesting topics, most notably the fact that todays youth are going into multmedia multitasking overload and how we can harness that. Also the need to tap into transmedia storytelling and use these touchpoints in a more learning based environment.

He speaks about the current issue with kids learning in the States, despite the massive education spending ,they are currently 15th in the world in basic reading proficiency. He speaks about kids knowledge ‘being mile wide, but an inch deep’ and the 3 key trends which are impacting on digital learning for kids today:

1. MEDIA MULTITASKING – Clearly kids are taking in ridiculous amounts of media per week, 53hrs a week to be exact, however is it leading to attention deficit disorder as kids don’t know what to concentrate on. Michael believes that ‘Aligning content’ via games, mobile, books and TV via characters will enable a more immersive learning experience and build on the habits of kids to engage with characters.

2. CONVERGENCE LEARNING – the growth of transmedia narratives where stories come to life across multiple touchpoints needs to be translated to the educational system. It’s about creating educational content that travels – so they can access it anytime, anywhere through any touchpoint.

3. PEER LEARNING – social media enables amazing sharing of content and ideas, and this social behaviour needs to be harnessed for the education system. The ability for kids to learn with their parents and grandparents collaboratively via technology is the way of the future. His company has been developing an interesting book reader idea with Nokia Labs which looks to redefine the learn and play paradigm by giving kids the chance to teach their parents as well.

Some interesting thoughts here for marketers.

Overall, he spoke about the need to create more personal, deeper and participatory learning environments using digital media.