Online Teens Shape Trends

Teens are a good influence, according to findings from a trio of reports from JupiterResearch that identifies the impact of this growing population. (JupiterResearch is a division of this site’s parent.)

Currently 18.5 million strong, the ranks of teenagers are expected to swell to 22 million in 2008. Twelve to 17 year-olds represented 11 percent of the overall online population in 2003, but will drop to 10 percent in 2008, the report said.

Already identified as music influencers and the primary decision-makers for consumer electronics, the research firm further acknowledged that teens also exert heavy influence on household purchasing – making them a highly attractive target audience to marketers.

In fact, the Jupiter report revealed that 17 percent of the online teens would qualify as highly active online “influencers” who spend roughly eight hours per week on the Internet, engaging in the broadest range of activities. More than half (53 percent) of the influencers are girls who actively shop and spread the word to friends about trends and products.

Beside the viral marketing benefits, teens are also spending their money online. “Teens spent $244 in online retail in 2003, [and] their online spending is expected to reach $386 in 2008,” said JupiterResearch research director Vikram Sehgal.

The report identified different habits among the online boys and girls. While teen boys spend 150 percent more time per week playing online games than girl, the girls are spending 22 percent more time online.

Sehgal comments on the gap in the breadth of online activity usage between teen girls compared to teen boys: “According to an online activity index, an aggregate of a variety of online activities, more 14 year-old teen girls are actively involved in various online activities than 17 year-old teen boys.”

A multichannel mix of online and television would likely reach the teen population. The report reveals that 12 to 17 year-olds spend seven hours per week online versus 10 hours watching TV – an online-to-TV gap that is wider than that of adults. Teens also more regularly engage in instant messaging, Weblogs, gaming, music and movies than adults.

JupiterResearch’s findings are based in part on a survey of over 1,800 online teens, ages 13 to 17.

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