Millennial Media Consumption and Your Teen

Whether you’re the parent of a teen or pre teen, you may already be dismayed by the amount of time they spend online. “Go outside and play” usually falls on deaf ears these days.

wsj-millennial-mediaThe Wall Street Journal is out with new statistics today on millennial media consumption that may give you a glimpse into what you can look forward to (it’s not good, if you think too much time online is bad). The survey captured the opinions and habits of 839 millennials 18 – 36 years of age in January of 2014.

Millennials, loosely defined as the generation born between 1980 and 2000, have had the good fortune (if you’re a fan on the internet) of growing up at the same time as the personal computer and internet, and as such have a distinct set of media habits that are far different than those of their parents, in most cases. If you’re the parent of a teen, surely you’ve seen it in your own home.

The headline number from the survey is that the average millennial spends 17.8 hours per day consuming media. The does not equate to every waking hour, but rather allows for the fact that for much of the day, youths are interacting with two or more types of media simultaneously, for example, watching TV and surfing the web at the same time.

The breakdown, in hours and minutes per day:

  • Browse the internet – 3:34
  • Social Media – 3:12
  • Watch live TV – 2:19
  • Video Games – 1:47
  • Watch recorded, streaming TV – 1:47
  • Go to movies – 1:15
  • Radio – 1:15
  • Email and messaging – 1:04
  • Talk about news, brands, and products – 1:04
  • Read print, magazines – 0:32

If your teen or pre teen is currently online 5 – 7 hours per day, this is fairly typical according to recent statistics. If the above numbers are to be believed, your child’s online media time is likely to increase, perhaps by a lot.

Is it time to resign yourself to the fact that your child will be forever tethered to a screen or two or three, and not participating in life as you understand it? Maybe, but there is one simple thing you can do to avoid losing the connection to your kid. Get involved and take a genuine interest in what he or she is doing online.

Let’s say that you have a teen who is spending 7 hours per day online. Do you have at least a basic understanding of what she is doing on there – which apps and sites she is using, who she is talking to? If you don’t now, or soon, you probably never will. We’re not saying that you have to become a hardcore gamer, but large swaths of human interaction have moved online. I can recall zero instances in history where people, when offered the choice of (and choosing) a legal, functioning communications medium, were actually coerced into using something else. The internet has won this round. If you can’t beat’ em, join ‘em.


Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.

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