Study: Teens Would Rather Hit Web, TV Than Read

Today’s youth would rather go online, play videogames or watch TV than read magazines or books. According to new data released Thursday (June 19) from research firm Youth Trends, the percentage of teens (ages 13 to 17) and ‘tweens (ages 8 to 12) who read a magazine for fun declined for the third consecutive year, while TV viewing, online and mobile usage increased.

Conducted twice a year in the spring and fall, The Tween & Teen Lifestyle Report was based on in-person interviews with 1,182 respondents conducted the week of March 24, 2008.

Only 19 percent of teen magazine readers said they spend more time reading magazines compared to last year. According to the study, 63 percent of teens read at least one magazine for fun in the last month, down from 65 percent last year. Among ‘tweens, 48 percent read a magazine for fun compared to 52 percent last year and 55 percent two years ago.

In contrast, the time youth spend online continues to grow. During a typical week, teens spend an average of 12.5 hours, up from 10.7 hours last year. ‘Tweens spend an average of 6.5 hours online, compared to 5.2 hours last year.

TV viewing was up slightly among youth. Teens watch an average of 11.9 hours per week, up from 11.6 hours last year. ‘Tweens spend 12.2 hours with TV, up from 11.8 hours last year.

“We knew something had to give with respect to the media consumption pie. There’s only so much free time in any given day, especially during the school year, and clearly reading a magazine has dropped a few notches on the totem pole,” said Josh Weil, co-founder and partner for Youth Trends.

Among online activities, sending and receiving email is at the top of the activity list, followed by instant messaging and playing a simple game. Popular Web sites among teens include YouTube, Facebook, Google and MySpace, while ‘tweens named sites such as Webkinz, Nick, YouTube and Disney.

More teens, 73 percent, own mobile phones up from 65 percent last year, but only a small percentage of ‘tweens, 26 percent, own their own mobile phone. Text messaging is the dominant activity.

Teens and ‘tweens also own more console or portable game systems than ever before. Three in four teens and ‘tweens own at least one console or portable gaming system. They also intend to purchase more games this year, up to 3.1 games from 2.5 games last year.

Radio listening remained flat, but teens and tweens, spending a lot of time in the car, often don’t have control over the radio dial. About 25 percent of youth are a captive audience to whatever the driver chooses, Weil explains. During a typical week, teens listen to the radio 4.1 hours, slightly down from 4.2 hours a year ago and 4.6 hours in 2006. ‘Tweens, the least likely demographic to have control over the dial, listened 3.5 hours, slightly up from 3.3 hours last year and 3.1 hours in 2006.