Study: 18-34s Favor High-Tech

Nine guys, nine laptops, nine cell phones, five TV sets, and not a single phone line. The off- campus college household, a scenario highlighted in an ethnographic study released last week, underscores the multitude of media options competing for the attention of 18- to 34-year-olds, who have grown up during a time of rapid technological change.

The qualitative research, conducted by Greystone Communications managing director John Carey on behalf of the Online Publishers Association, was based on observations and interviews with 42 people in this age group, in five states.

A major commonality among the participants was that the Web has become a dominant media for them because it fits into their chaotic and unpredictable schedules. The Internet is perceived as a source of information and entertainment and is described as “accessible” and “convenient,” said Carey.

The younger half of this sought-after demographic “talks about the Web as a traditional media,” said Carey, who was informed by one female participant that “if the Internet’s down, I feel naked.”

Carey also found that simultaneous media usage abounds within this group. For instance, wireless-Internet access has contributed significantly to people surfing the Web while watching TV.

“[The research] does a good job showing how entrenched technology is in the lives of younger adults,” said Sarah Fay, president of Aegis Group’s Carat Interactive in Boston. “You wouldn’t think of going to college today without having a computer and Internet connection.”