The New Multitaskers: Kids Split Attention Between TV, Internet

A new study on social networking by Grunwald Associates reveals that kids are no longer glued to the television. Now, while the tube is on, many kids are also splitting their attention between the TV and the Internet. The report showed that 64 percent of kids aged nine to 17 go online while watching TV. Of those, 73 percent say they’re engaged in active multi-tasking.

However, don’t expect television networks to panic, as they are the ones driving kids online in the first place. 33 percent of nine to seventeen year olds participated in online polls, entered contests, played online games or participated in other online activities that television programs have directed them to while they are watching.

Once a kid is online, the Internet begins to dominate their attention: 47 percent said that the Internet becomes the primary focus, while 42 percent said their attention is split equally between the Internet and TV.

Kids are also getting a head start on incorporating social networking as part of their multi-tasking: 45 percent of teens have sent instant messages or e-mail to others they knew were watching the same TV show. And 66 percent recruit their friends to watch their favorite sites, and 48 percent promote new sites to their friends.

“Active multitasking and social networking present a tremendous opportunity to inform, engage and empower kids more deeply than ever before,” said Peter Grunwald, founder and president of Grunwald Associates and a leading authority on kids’ media use. “At the same time, it’s important for commercial efforts to be credible and respect kids’ intelligence – and the content they produce. Kids are using social networking tools to create personal content and share their opinions with great speed, passion and influence.”

Grunwald’s comments are confirmed by the study, which shows that kids don’t just consume, they are also creators of online content. It found that 27 percent produce blogs, pages or other online spaces and upload original content such as articles, audio, video, polls, and quizzes to publicly available Web sites, at least three times a week.

“The findings of this study strongly suggest that companies should use multiple platforms – TV, online, social networking, handhelds and other interactive media to create a synergistic communications effort and a compelling, highly interactive experience for kids,” concludes Grunwald.

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