Web Supplants TV as Top Media Choice of US ‘Wired Generation’

30 July 2003

US teenagers and twentysomethings now devote more time to surfing the web than to watching TV, a new survey has found.

The Born to Be Wired: Understanding the First Wired Generation study – conducted by Harris Research and Teenage Research Unlimited – examined the media habits of over 2,500 Americans aged between 13 and 24.

It found a significant shift in the media consumption of this demographic. The web is now the most-accessed medium, with the average respondent surfing for 16.7 hours a week (not including email). Television lagged in second place on 13.6 hours, with 12 hours for radio, 7.7 hours for making phone calls and 6 hours for reading books and magazines.

But the web is far from an exclusive medium – just 5% of respondents fail to combine surfing with another activity. Around 68% put on CDs or MP3s, 50% turn on the TV, 45% make phone calls, 45% switch on the radio, 45% do school work and 21% read.

The ease with which these young adults, dubbed ‘Millennials’, handle multiple media simultaneously was the most notable finding from the study, according to Sarah Fay, president of Carat Interactive (which commissioned the survey alongside Yahoo!).

“We know they are juggling more media,” she commented, “making their attention spans shorter and more challenging to capture.”

The spending power of the 13–24 demographic is estimated at $149 billion (€130bn; £92bn), around 15% of which goes on online purchases.

Data sourced from: AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff