User Research You Can Use – Inside the Teenage Mind

 User Research You Can Use   Inside the Teenage Mind

Recently, the Business Insider posted a fascinating report about Teenagers Online behavior that included data provided by Nielsen, Ericsson, Common Sense Media and McAfee.

Today’s teenagers are tomorrow’s adults, so this is always a fascinating group since it highlights future trends that give us insight into how people’s user behavior is changing over time.

Understanding and applying this research to your products might lead you in a slightly different direction than you are currently thinking, since there are some extreme differences between the younger and older generations. And it would

Here are a few of the top observations and data points:

Device ownership and usage:

Not many teens own tablet computers (only 14%). My interpretation of this data point is that for most people, a tablet is a secondary device at this point in time- something they buy as a second device after a computer – so teenage ownership of tablets is currently low but will undoubtedly increase over time, especially as future parents opt for a tablet with a keyboard in lieu of a laptop.

  • The majority of teens(57%) own an iPod Touch (or similar) Cell phones – almost all of them own some form of cell phone.
  • 30%+ of 13 year olds own a phone and by the time they hit 17 this figure is close to 50%.
  • Girls are more likely to have a smartphone than boys – e.g. 38% of 16 year old boys have a smartphone vs 48% of girls (nearly a 22% difference)

Teens are incredibly connected through mobile devices:

  • Texting usage: The majority of teens (68%) text everyday.
  • Texting usage – for teens – is quite different than for adults.
  • The Average number of messages exchanged per month for 13-17 years (both genders) is 3,417 !

Here’s a breakdown of average number of texts exchanged per month, broken down by age.

  • 13-17: 3,417
  • 18-24: 1,914
  • 24-34: 928
  • 35-44: 709
  • 45-54: 434
  • 55-64: 167
  • 65+: 64
Texting is MUCH more prevalent for the 13-17 year old group. The contrast between the different age groups is staggering. They send 8x the number of texts that their 40 something parents send.

Gender differences:

Females send approximately 30% more texts on average then males. By itself that is an interesting gender gap statistic.

Social Media Usage:

The majority of teens (51%) check a social media network everyday (typically Facebook).

  • Most common activities are using the “Like” button, looking at others’ profiles, updating their own status, writing comments on others walls, and writing personal messages.
  • Twitter is not very popular among teenagers either, with only 11% of teens using Twitter everyday.
  • And only 28% of teens that do have Twitter accounts actually use them.

Preferred Communication Method

Teens are the first generation to really come of age with cell phones/smart phones with full size keyboards at the same time as computers.

Because of this, they are dramatically more likely to use texts to communicate rather than speaking on the phone, or email, or instant messaging.

This represents a big change vs. “older” groups – i.e. non-teenagers.   only 4% of them say the phone is their favorite way to talk to their friends (vs. 33% that said text for the same question)

  • Only 30% use email everyday and only 19% use IM (instant messaging) everyday.
  • Daily snapshot: So what does teen communication look like on a daily basis?
  • 68% of them text, 51% visit a social networking site, 30% use email and only 19% use IM.
  • Search behavior – teens search about as much as other age groups.
  • Online gaming – their usage is similar to other age groups.

Things that teens do much less than other age groups:

They are less likely to read news online and to purchase things online   Privacy and other alarming behaviors. Teens, unsurprisingly, are up to all sorts of shenanigans that their parents do not know about.  And they are sneakier in using the internet and their mobile devices than their parents can imagine.

  • 31% of them have posted their cell phone numbers online, but only 14% of parents know their teens have posted their cellphone numbers online.
  • 32% of teens go to porn sites, and only 12% of parents are aware their kids go to porn sites.
  • 53% of them clear their browser’s history after going online (only 17.5% of their parents are aware of this)
  • 45% of them minimize their browser windows when their parents approach (and only 17% of parents are aware of this).
You can find the full report here

Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think of this interesting user research.