NEW YORK: Almost half of US teens use social media every day but listening to music and watching TV are preferable activities, according to a new survey.

A Common Sense Media Census of tweens and teens media use – from a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering children to thrive in a world of media and technology – that polled more than 2,600 young people found that only 36% of teens enjoyed using social media "a lot".

That compared to 73% who enjoyed listening to music a lot and 45% who enjoyed watching TV a lot.

"Some of the results support conventional wisdom about how and how much our children use media," said Yalda T. Uhls, Common Sense Media executive and child development expert. "Other findings should help marketers rethink assumptions about kids' lives."

The former category included gender divides in social media use and gaming activities. Girls spent 40 minutes more a day than boys on social media (1 hour 32 minutes against 52 minutes), while teenage boys spent eight times longer playing video games (56 minutes compared to 7 minutes).

The report highlighted the fragmentation of media preferences, noting that no one activity was the favourite of a majority in either age group.

So, for example, playing video games topped the list of media activities among tweens but was the favourite of less than a quarter (22%). Reading (16%) was a more common favourite activity in this age group than watching TV (13%), while listening to music (10%) and watching online videos (10%) were more popular than playing mobile games (8%).

And while many teens enjoyed listening to music, it was the favourite activity of only 30%, followed by playing video games (15%), reading (10%), using social media (10%) and watching TV (9%).

Uhls, presenting the findings in a webinar for members of the Association of National Advertiser's Alliance for Family Entertainment, was encouraged that marketers were taking steps to educate themselves about what tween and teen consumers needed and wanted from their media options.

"We might conclude, for example, that given these findings the true reason for social media consumption is not a desire to share but a need to make connections in a complex and often-bewildering world," she said.

Data sourced from Common Sense Media; additional content by Warc staff