Scribd Nielsen Report

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Myth: Teens use media—10 screens at a time

Reality: Teens are more likely than adults to use their media one at a time

Popular opinion is that teen media consumers are constantly surrounded by multiple media, but the image of the “typical” teen listening to an iPod, watching TV, texting and browsing the Internet all at the same time, it turns out, is grossly misrepresentative. In 2007, Ball State University’s Center for Media Design conducted an observational study of teen media use, “High School Media Too,” (2007). In the study, researchers found that 23% of the media time among observed teens was concurrent media exposure, where two or more media were in simultaneous use. Put differently, 77% of the time observed, teens were consuming media they were using just one at a time. This level of concurrent use is lower than Ball State researchers saw in older media consumers in the now famous Middletown Media Studies research, also a product of the Center for Media Design. There, 31% of adult media time was concurrent exposure. While teens do multi-task in their media experience, their concurrent behavior may actually be lower than it is among adults. The myth that concurrent exposure is the norm, for teens in particular, sets an important framework as we explore the breadth of the teen media experience.

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