Teens, TV and Texting

It is always interesting to me how each generation of adults talk about the demise of teenagers. I've heard people my age talk about how concerned they are by the amount of time their kids text, watch video games, listen to their MP3 players or spend time online. Others are worried by the amount of violence in their video games or the types of TV shows they watch. And yet, a new report by Nielsen seems to debunk those theories. In fact, it seems to indicate that today's teens are pretty normal:

  • Teens are NOT abandoning TV for new media: In fact, they watch more TV than ever, up 6% over the past five years in the U.S.
  • Teens love the Internet…but spend far less time browsing than adults: Teens spend 11 hours and 32 minutes per month online—far below the average of 29 hours and 15 minutes.
  • Teens watch less online video than most adults, but the ads are highly engaging to them.
  • Teens read newspapers, listen to the radio and even like advertising more than most.
  • Teens play video games, but are as excited about play-along music games and car-racing games as they are about violent ones: Just two of their top five most-anticipated games since 2005 are rated “Mature.”
  • Teens’ favorite TV shows, top websites and genre preferences across media are mostly the same as those of their parents. For U.S. teens, American Idol was the top show in 2008, Google the top website and general dramas are a preferred TV genre for teens around the world.

The report goes on to show what a typical day in the life of a teen looks like...


They do indicate that some things are changing. For example, teens are texting more than ever before. In a two-year period from early 2007 to early 2009, the average teen increased their texting from 435 to nearly 2900 per month. During the same period, teens reduced their monthly phone calls by 25%.

I get excited by these types of reports. As a church leader, it gives me handles on how to reach people more effectively. We can sit back and moan, wishing for the good 'ole days, or we can take the information and blaze a trail finding ever new ways to build relationships and engage people in spiritual conversations.