What Are UK Teens Doing Online? - eMarketer

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What Are UK Teens Doing Online?

Listening to music is a very popular teen online activity

April 4, 2013

UK teens have a significant presence online and are at the leading edge of many digital behaviors, according to a survey conducted by Research Now and initiated by K&A BrandResearch. Research Now surveyed 12- to 17-year-old internet users in the country in October 2012 and found that the vast majority still went online via a PC or laptop, at more than nine in 10. Smartphones also got significant attention from these younger consumers; 45% reported using them to get online. And tablet penetration among the school-age crowd is rising fast as well, cited by 18% of UK teen respondents.

By comparison, eMarketer expects tablets to reach just over 20% of the entire UK population in 2013, and smartphones to be in the hands of 38% of UK residents. These numbers suggest that the reach of these devices among teens is at parity or above penetration levels for the entire population.

Devices Used to Access the Internet According to UK Teen Internet Users, Oct 2012 (% of respondents)

When UK teens go online—whether via PC or mobile—using search engines to seek out information is their No. 1 activity, in line with the ubiquity of this action among older age groups as well.

The next two most popular activities showed the ways in which teens’ digital priorities may somewhat diverge from older consumers’. Just about 80% of UK teens said they went online to visit social networks. And another seven out of 10 used the internet to listen to music. These responses beat out email, watching video and playing games as teens’ primary digital activities.

Leading Online Activities of UK Teen Internet Users, Oct 2012 (% of respondents)

And for those activities that UK teens can accomplish online or off, how far has the demographic moved into the digital realm?

Research Now asked which activities respondents preferred doing online vs. off and found that, unsurprisingly, looking up information and comparing prices were distinctly internet-enabled actions.

Playing games and listening to music were also online-centric activities for 73% and 61% of respondents, respectively.

Online vs. Offline Preference for Select Activities According to UK Teen Internet Users, Oct 2012 (% of respondents)

But mirroring lower overall online penetration levels for certain activities, UK teens still preferred watching videos offline, cited by 57% of respondents. Even greater percentages preferred watching TV and sports offline.

Shopping was a popular offline behavior as well, preferred over shopping online by 65% of respondents.

As these teens age up, their reliance on the internet for some of these activities will likely grow, especially as the mobile internet plays a greater role in their lives. As an example of the way in which smartphones have already affected digital behavior, the highest percentage of UK teens—45%—said they liked smartphones because they could use them to listen to music. The devices, then, are surely helping drive the already significant popularity of digital music listening.

It is only a matter of time before smartphone and tablet device usage and availability of services bring even more activity to the online realm for teens.

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