Facebook… or Jersey Shore?

Posted on: 11/1/11 3:48 PM | by Jonathan McKee

How well do you know your teenagers?

For example, if you asked them, “What would you rather give up, T.V. or internet.” Which would they choose?

Is their answer… the answer? Many kids (including the majority of young people across the pond) would be quick to respond, “We’d rather lose T.V.!” Interestingly enough, their actions might not exactly be matching their words if “time spent” is any indicator.

It’s a question I continue to ask parents. I’ll ask it again in my parenting workshop this weekend in Colorado Springs and I guarantee you that over 90% of them will get the answer wrong. I’ll ask, “What do today’s teenagers spend more time doing, browsing the internet or watching TV?” The truth always shocks them.

The answer is still TV, by a long shot. It has been for a while. The newest reports from Nielson give us a peek at the hours per week/month kids are spending watching TV and browsing the internet. Here’s one of the tables from the newest Nielson Cross Platform Report: (free registration required)

Notice how low those internet numbers are for 12-17-year-olds. (So low, in fact that I contacted them and asked them why. I’m so meticulous it’s irritating at times.) Don’t get me wrong… the numbers are close, especially as you start to look at the 18-year-olds. If you really want to hash out specifics, read this article I wrote this summer where I go through some of those numbers of the last report like this in great detail.

For those who just want the broad strokes… just know this: kids are spending hours online, and even more hours on TV. And since 91% of U.S. homes now pay for television, they aren’t just watching broadcast shows, they’re watching cable in a big way. (You can jump on Nielson’s Top 10 TV ratings page on any given week and look to see what ruled the previous week. The week of October 17th, Jersey Shore was the #2 Cable show under NFL on ESPN. The week of October 24th NFL stayed on top and AMC’s Walking Dead took the #2 spot.)

Why is it important to know this?

As a parent we should know what our kids are watching and what their friends are watching. Don’t be like so many parents that just let their kids watch whatever they want.

As a youth worker we should know what mainstream kids are watching so we know what kind of teaching they’re receiving throughout the week. If they’re bathing in Jersey Shore and Two and a Half Men each week, we might want to really think about talking about sex more than once a year!

Do you know what your kids are watching?

3 Replies to “Facebook… or Jersey Shore?”

  1. Jonathan,

    A possibility for teens answering they would rather give up tv is that most of the programs can also be viewed online, where as internet use on the tv never really took off. I know that’s not the point of this article, but the thought struck me as I pondered why their answer was so incongruent with their actions. I also wonder if these numbers take into account browsing facebook or twitter apps on the phone. I often look at my facebook newsfeed on my phone while watching tv. Since I got my smartphone about 18 months ago, I’ve noticed my traditional computer time go down drastically. I’m guessing the people at Nielson are savvy enough to take that into account, but I’d be interested to know if they did.



    1. Dave… yep… just look at the chart I included. You’ll see categories for both “Watching video on the internet” and “Mobile Subscribers Watching Video on a Mobile Phone.” Read the article linked above that I wrote during the summer for even more numbers.

  2. I find it interesting that the stats for their parents’ (assuming 35-49) consumption of both TV and Internet are almost double of their teens! Even more surprising is the media consumption of their grandparents (assuming 65+).

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