Kids Multi-tasking Internet & TV

Posted on: 03/12/08 8:29 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Any youth worker or parent who has read anything about this young generation has frequently seen the word “multi-tasking.” Today’s kids can multi-task like no generation before them.

Media Life came out with an article yesterday about kids browsing the internet WHILE watching TV and how marketers are using this opportunity. TV watchers have probably noticed this phenomenon in the last year. You can’t watch American Idol or even a football game without being repeatedly pitched to jump on their web site and vote or participate in a poll. You might not be responding to these plea’s… but our kids are.

According to the above article:

overall 64 percent of kids go online while watching TV. Just under half do so frequently, between three times a week and several times a day.

It also found that 73 percent of those who are watching TV while online are engaged in active multitasking. That’s up dramatically from the 55 percent of kids who said they had engaged in active multitasking back in 2002.

Some 50 percent said they had visited a web site in direct response to something they’d seen while watching TV. That’s up from 41 percent.

Some 35 percent said they had sent an email or instant message to someone who was watching the same TV show, compared to 18 percent in 2002.

Further, one third said they went online to participate in polls, contests or games after television programs have directed them to while still watching the tube. That’s up from 21 percent.

Another interesting thing to come out in the study is that when kids are on the internet while watching TV, it’s the internet that tends to hold their attention as the primary medium.

I found that last fact fascinating– when in comes to engaging in internet and TV simultaneously, the internet wins in the fight for attention. Perhaps because it is “interactive” by definition.

More on this research in this article. (thanks for this one Anastasia)

Today’s teenagers have never known the world without the internet. That, combined with all the other gadgets readily available to them has created a generation of media junkies who can handle more than a couple mediums at once. I talk about this in Chapter Four (click here for that chapter in article form on our web site) in my book THE NEW BREED, describing how to recruit today’s young professional as a volunteer.

Years ago every report was about the effects of TV– families who leave the TV on during homework or during dinner. Now we’re seeing a shift to people doing everything “while browsing the internet.”