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Teens Still Like Talking Face to Face, but Texting Catching Up

Teens report spending 13.5% of their online time on their smartphone

Every generation of young people seems to be misunderstood by their elders, and today’s teens are no exception. While adults may accuse adolescents of preferring electronics to face-to-face contact, March data on teenage internet users in the US from Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that advocates for kids and families, shows that claim may be unfounded, or at least deserves qualification.

Nearly half of 13- to 17-year-old respondents said their favorite way to communicate with friends was in person. Texting was a close second, though, with one-third saying they preferred it.

Among those who liked texting better, 30% said it was the quickest way to communicate, 23% said it was easiest and 16% said it gave them more time to think about how to respond. For those who preferred face-to-face communication, 38% indicated that it was more fun, while 29% said they could better understand what people mean in person.

Nevertheless, teens today are “digital natives” in every sense, and even smartphones represent a significant online access point for these young internet users. A May study of US teens by security firm McAfee, for example, showed that teen internet users reported spending 13.5% of their online time on their smartphone.

What’s the takeaway for marketers trying to win a share of young internet users’ attention? March data from Ipsos OTX and Ipsos Global @dvisor suggests mobile ads are a good bet. More than one-third (36%) of US internet users under 35 have read an ad on their mobile phone, according to the survey.

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Check out today’s other articles, “Marketers Seek New Models to Grow Media and Entertainment” and “China Leads Asia-Pacific in Mobile Social Media Use.”

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