Teen Use Of Web, Online Technologies Growing

More teenagers are going online and doing more things online than they did in 2000.

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A new “Teens and Technology” report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project found 87 percent of American teens age 12 to 17 used the Internet in 2004, up from 73 percent in 2000. The frequency of teens’ online usage has also risen 51 percent since that time, and the number of teens who report they go online daily is up from 42 percent in 2000. Pew also found 51 percent of online teens live in homes with broadband Internet access.

Likelihood of Teen and Adult Engagement in Online Activities
Online Teens (%) Online Adults(%)
Play online games 81 32
Send or receive IMs 75 42
Get info about a school you might attend 57 45
Send or read email 89 90
Get news or info about current events 76 73
Look for news or info about politics and the presidential campaign 55 58
Look for religious or spiritual info 26 30
Buy things, such as books, clothing, or music 43 67
Look for health, dieting, or fitness info 31 66
Look for info about a job 30 44
1. Margin of error is ± 4% for online teens.
2. Margin of error is ± 3% for online adults for all surveys except for November 2004, which is ± 5%.
3. Teen data is from an October-November 2004 survey.
4. Adult data is from a December 2002 survey and a November 2004-January 2005 survey.
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2005.

Teens now use a broader array of online content and services. E-mail is still the number one activity at 89 percent, though it slipped marginally from the 92 percent reported in 2000. Visits to entertainment Web sites (TV, music, sport and movies) were noted by 84 percent of teens (up from 83 percent in 2000). The likelihood of teens going online to play games jumped to 81 percent, up from only 66 percent in 2000. Checking online news (76 percent), purchasing online (43 percent) and getting health information (31 percent) werde also up.

In comparison with adults, teen play more online games, IM more, and have a higher propensity to go online to get news on current events.

Likelihood of Teen Engagement in Online Activities
Oct.-Nov. 2004 (%) Nov.-Dec. 2000 (%)
Play online games 81 66
Get news or info about current events 76 68
Buy things, such as books, clothing, or music 43 31
Look for health, dieting, or fitness info 31 26
Send or read email 89 92
Go to Web sites about movies, TV shows, music groups, or sports stars 84 83
Send or receive IMs 75 74
Note: Margin of error is ± 4%.
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2005.

Adults don’t leave their teenagers alone online. Over half of parents (54 percent) report they used some form of monitoring or filtering software to watch out for their kids. Sixty-four percent of parents went a step further and said they set rules for their teens’ online time. Despite parents’ best efforts, kids will be kids. Both parents (65 percent) and teens (64 percent) believe teens aren’t doing anything online that don’t want their parents to know about.

Though teens’ technology use is growing, the plain old landline telephone remains the top method of communication, used by 52 percent. Instant messaging came in second at 24 percent; cell phones at 12 percent; followed by email (five percent) and text messaging (three percent).

“We’ve known for some time that teens are more intensive users of instant messaging than adults, but this was the first evidence that we’ve gathered that suggest that teens are so enamored with IM that they are frequently choosing IM for everyday communications,” Mary Madden, Pew Internet & American Life Project research specialist and co-author of the report, told ClickZ Stats.

Teens also use IM for more than just basic messaging. Half the respondents have included a link to an article, 45 percent said they had used IM to send a document or photo, and 31 percent sent music and video.

Though the publicly available report includes copious amounts of data on teen’s online activities, it doesn’t specifically break out blogging and podcasting activities. A future study is expected to tackle those issue. “That’s sort of a gaping hole in this report, but it’s not because we didn’t ask the questions, it just that they haven’t been released yet,” Madden explained. “We just felt that there is so much here already that [blogging and podcasting] content really needed its own report.”

Report data were collected by phone from a randomly generated sample of 1,100 child-parent/guardian pairs. The survey was conducted during a month-long period spanning October to November, 2004.

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