Study: Adults Spend More Time on Net than Teens

Adults seeking cover from the glut of teen teen-targeted marketing of pop stars like Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys and N'Sync via TV, radio, billboards and restaurants promotions can take heart.

Adults spend more time online than teenagers, which means the Web is a relatively safe haven. For now.

Teens on average spend less than half the time online than adults do, in both number and length of sessions, according to a study by market research firm Jupiter Communications Inc. and Internet statistics firm Media Metrix Inc., released Tuesday to attendees of Digital Kids Forum at the Argent Hotel in San Francisco.

Teens spend an average of 303 minutes online per month, compared with the adult average of 728 minutes per month, according to Media Metrix research for June 2000. Jupiter's researchers attribute the lower rate of time online to teens' active schedules. Researchers list school, after-school activities and the necessity of sharing online time at home with other family members among the reasons.

The gap isn't likely to change soon, said Stacey Herron, a Jupiter analyst. "As teens start to use the Internet at school more, perhaps they'll spend a bit more time online, but the lifestyle of a teen lends itself to other activities."

The younger people are, the less time they spend online, said Media Metrix. Teens aged 12 to 17 spend an average of 303 minutes online over eight days per month, young adults, aged 18 to 34, spend an average of 656 minutes over 13 days per month, and adults aged 35 to 49 spend an average of 804 minutes over 15 days per month.

In short, Junior gets to go online after soccer practice and homework, but Mom and Dad drag him away from the online Quake Tournament at bedtime (it's a school night after all) ... then morph into midnight surf zombies themselves.

Perhaps a restatement of the obvious, but Jupiter also said in its release that it's hard to get teenagers' attention.

"Businesses that target this audience must evaluate their content and offer elements that these teens want in order to capture any part of that limited time," said Anya Sacharow, Jupiter's analyst for the kids and teen markets. "Strong branding and alliances with online networks sway teen girls; teen boys are technophiles largely and will look for any aspect of gaming."

There are plenty of sites targeting teen girls, dressed up with hysteria-inducing Web designs spiffy enough to make any hardened e-commerce developer drool -- www.britneyspears.com, www.backstreetboys.com, www.nsync.com and other familiar names like www.seventeen.com or www.abercrombie.com.

Sites attracting the highest percentages of teenage boys are almost exclusively for game tips, according to Media Metrix data. Boys spend time looking for cheat codes on www.gameshark.com or www.cheatcc.com, and the only recognizable brand name among the top sites was www.nintendo.com. Go figure.

There are few, if any, truly popular sites which can draw even numbers of teenage visitors from both genders, said Herron. So girls will look for the Britney Spears Web site, boys just want to blow stuff up online, and neither child's pursuit will draw the kind of shotgun-effect advertising that will get between Mom and Dad's eyeballs and eBay.com.

Teenagers see the Web as entertainment or a communications device, a TV with 30 million channels and a phone to boot, said Herron. Teens don't see the medium as the productive, time-and-labor-saving tool that's keeping Mom and Dad on eBay at 2:30 a.m.

Jupiter Communications, based in New York, can be reached at +1-212-780-6060 or at http://www.jup.com/. Media Metrix, in New York, can be reached at +1-212-515-8700 or at http://www.mediametrix.com.

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