Teens still prefer watching TV, listening to music to social media, study says

Teens aren't just texting and browsing social networks all day, a new survey has found. In fact, remarkably, traditional media still 'dominates,' according to the study.

Study teenagers watching TV using internet social media

If you thought teens were spending all of their time buried in smartphones texting, uploading selfies, and communicating with their friends on social networks, you'd be wrong.

While they are doing that, they're also still consuming traditional media, a survey says.

Nine hours of media a day

Teens are consuming an average of nine hours of media per day, and that doesn't include school time or homework, according to a new survey released by the non-profit Common Sense Media (PDF).

The media is predominantly TV and music, as it's always been, despite the proliferation of smartphones and other electronic devices, along with their respective social communication and internet aspects.

Watching TV

Almost two-thirds (62%) of teens say they watch TV "every day," whereas, in comparison, 24% watch online videos and 27% play mobile games every day, according to the report.

Sixty-six percent listen to music every day, whereas 45% use social networks daily, and 27% "play mobile video games every day," the report says.

Social media

Social media wasn't all that popular. Remarkably, only 10% of teens selected social media as their favorite activity when asked in the survey.

Seventy-three percent enjoyed listening to music "a lot," whereas only 36% indicated they enjoyed social media "a lot."


One area that the study looked at which might be relevant to the IT community, as these kids are the workers of tomorrow, is the tools they used.

The survey found, as we would expect, that media consumption was "highly mobile."

"Even though 'traditional' media activities such as watching TV and listening to music still dominate, new methods of accessing that content are widely used," the report says.

Mobile devices made up almost half (46%) "of all screen time" among teens.

"Only half of all TV- and video-viewing time consists of watching TV programming on a TV set at the time it is broadcast," the report says.

Content creation

Electronics don't seem to have induced a rash of creativity in teens, and most teenagers will not be the content creators of tomorrow, if the survey is correct. Only 3% of teens create any media on their devices.

Principal use of the tools, such as PCs, tablets, and smartphones, was passive consumption, with communication and interactive communication a second and third use. Creation came last.

Passive consumption is considered reading, watching TV, and so on, whereas interactive consumption includes games and web browsing.


Amazingly, modern teenagers might have developed new multitasking skills never before seen in humans, the survey discovered.

About two-thirds of the teens said that they think watching TV, texting, or using social media "while doing homework" makes no difference to the quality of their work.

A possible interpretation of that finding would be that kids are wrong sometimes.

Future studies?

And what hasn't the survey told us?

Well, we now know that teens still watch TV and listen to music. But glaringly omitted from the survey is whether teenagers still don't clean their rooms, or still don't bring in the trash cans from the street when they're told to. Maybe we'll have to guess on that one?

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