The perception of today's teenagers is that of antsy kids bouncing back and forth between their computer screens and cellphones as they update their Facebook statuses and look at videos on Hulu and YouTube while texting their friends. The reality is that for all the time teens spend staring at small screens, it's still the television screen that gets most of their attention.
"There is a popularized notion of the typical teenager constantly digitally connected. ... In fact, teens consume the vast, vast majority of their video content via traditional television," according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. senior analyst Todd Juenger in a new report titled "Why the Internet Won't Kill TV."
Juenger, who follows traditional media companies including CBS and Time Warner, scrutinized data from Nielsen to show that "consumption of television by teens has stubbornly continued to grow, even as new devices have permeated their lives."
Currently, teens watch almost four hours of television a day. Although that is about two hours less than most adults, it is up from the roughly three hours they spent in front of the television in 2004. Adults have always watched more television than teens — even though it is generally assumed that kids, not their hard-working parents, are wasting their time in front of the boob tube.
This is not to say that teens are not embracing new platforms, but rather that those platforms are in addition to television. Teens on average watch only three minutes of video a day via computer or cellphone, which is less than 3% of their overall video consumption.