There's a reason that some call those born since the early 1990s the Internet generation.
A new Nielsen study finds that those Americans –along with the Millennials (typically described as born between the early mid-1970s and late 1980s– are the most digitally active and represent a larger portion of those owning smartphones and tablets. They are also among the biggest users of online video and social networks.
Nielsen and NM Incite's “State of the Media: U.S. Digital Consumer Report,” out today, finds that Americans 18 to 34 –a group that makes up 23% of the U.S. population– consume more digital media than other age groups.
The researchers have coined a new term for these digital consumers, Generation C, which encompasses some Gen Y and Z. “What we think is distinct about them and why we are calling them 'Gen C' is their fundamental connectedness,” says Radha Subramanyam, senior vice president of media analytics for Nielsen.
“They have grown up connected to devices and to each other in a really different way than before,” she says. “If you look at all the device usage and what they literally have on their body all the time and how even when they are talking specifically to each other, they are also connecting to others who are not even in the room, through technology, then you start to get a sense of this whole connected, native Internet generation.”
A breakdown of various categories, based on a meta study of Nielsen data in the fourth quarter of 2011:
Smartphones: Among smartphone owners, 39% are 18-34. The next highest age group, those aged 35-49 make up 30% of smartphone owners, followed by ages 50-64 (20%), ages 65-up (6%) and ages 13-17 (6%).
Tablets: 33% of tablet owners are 18-34. The next highest age group, those 35-49 make up 29% of tablet owners, followed by 50-64 (21%), ages 13-17 (11%) and ages 65-up (7%).
Social networks and blogs: Those 35-49 make up 28% of those who visit social networks and blogs, but the 18-34 age group comes in next, making up 27%. Those aged 50-64 make up 22%, ages 2-17 (13%) and ages 65-up (9%).
Online Video: The 35-49 age group nudges out the 18-34 age group again, making up 28% of online video watchers, compared with 27% ages 18-34. Those 50-64 make up 22%, ages 2-17 (14%) and ages 65-up (10%).
TV watching: Young viewers 2-17 tied the 18-34 age group, each making up 23% of TV viewers, followed by ages 35-49 (21%), ages 50-64 (20%) and ages 65-up (14%).
Breaking down digital consumers in other ways, women make up a bigger percentage than men of those who use social networks and blogs (54% to 46%) and watch online video (53% to 47%). Men are more likely to own a tablet, making up 53% of tablet owners; smartphone ownership is evenly split with women and men both making up 50%.
Whites make up 79% of those who use social networks, 78% of online video viewers, 61% of smartphone owners and 60% of tablet owners. Hispanics make up the next largest group of smartphone (17%) and tablet ownership (15%), followed by African-Americans and Asian-Americans.
“African-Americans are among the few groups who actually use the phones for talking,” Subramanyam says. “Their actual talk minutes are higher than other groups. They are actually relating to each other in the very kind of direct human way that the other groups have forgotten about.”
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