Growing Up Online: How Kids Are Using the Internet

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Internet Frequency: Teens Trump Tweens, Girls Beat Boys

American kids are using the internet for different reasons and at different rates, with age and gender being the key differentiators.

KidSay’s 2013 Year-End Trend Tracker tells us that more than half (52%) of America’s kids ages 8-15 report using the internet ‘many times a day’. But, as you know, the kids’ market is not a monolith. Age and gender preferences create distinct sub-groups of kids. L­et’s see how those variables impact internet usage.

A third of tween boys (33%) and 39% of tween girls report using the internet ‘many times a day’.  As tweens become teens (12-15 years old) those numbers increase substantially.  For teen boys the number almost doubles (up to 64%) while for teen girls it increases sharply, rising to 71%.

Why the Web?  Tweens Love Games 

Tween boys and girls (8-11 years old) use the internet primarily for entertainment. When asked, “What do you most often do on the internet?” tween boys and girls had the same top three reasons including: #1- play games (boys 48%, girls 34%), #2 – watch videos (boys and girls both 25%) and #3 – do schoolwork (boys 12%, girls 17%).

Why the Web?  Teens Love Each Other

As kids get older the internet becomes less of a device for play and more an instrument for social connection.  We know the social-emotional reasons for this. When kids enter middle school and high school, the importance of developing a social life increases. The internet is a tool that helps them do that. Evidence of the internet being used as a social development tool can be found in the “what” for which they use it.

For teen boys, the #1 use of the internet is to watch videos (30%), followed closely with 28% whose primary  use of the web is for social networking.  Look for new consoles like the Xbox One and the PS4 to increase the ‘playing games – social networking’ connection for boys, as inherent to these platforms is interacting with others while playing.

Teen girls, who place greater importance on interpersonal connection than boys do, primarily use the internet for social networking (#1- 42%).  This is true despite the fact that the popularity of the company most associated with social networking, Facebook, has dropped precipitously with teen girls. Once the #1 favorite website of 69%  (2011 June/July Trend Tracker) of teen girls, now only 15% of teen girls rank it as their favorite website.

What have they done lately?

The thing they ‘most often do’ is but one of the many things kids are using the internet for. The Top 5 things America’s kids report that they did on the internet ‘within the last week’ are:

  1. watched a video – 58%
  2. done schoolwork – 55%
  3. listened to music – 53%
  4. played games – 51%
  5. used a social network – 44%

Check KidSay’s Year End Trend Tracker for how these activities are effected by both age and gender.

Terence Burke

Terence Burke

SVP of Research, Editor-in-Chief KidSay's Trend Tracker at KidSay
Terence Burke is one of America’s leading kid experts. He is co-creator of KidSay’s Trend Tracker, a noted research report that many of the world’s most successful companies rely upon to understand kids and their rapidly-changing world. As the Trend Tracker’s editor-in-chief and principle writer since its inception, Terence has disseminated his kid-market expertise since 1999. The knowledge and insight Terence has acquired in his role as Trend Tracker editor and KidSay’s Senior VP of Research has led to multiple invitations to speak at Nickelodeon, Disney, McDonald’s, Reebok, Build-A-Bear, Activision, Kraft and Hasbro, among others. In addition to his research experience Terence has a Master’s degree in Therapeutic Education. He spent over two decades teaching emotionally handicapped students and, most recently, teaching inner-city youth at DreamYard High School in the Bronx, NY. Terence’s proudest achievements are being a husband to Katherine and a father to Alden, Selby, and Tristan.
Terence Burke
About the Author

Terence Burke

Terence Burke is one of America’s leading kid experts. He is co-creator of KidSay’s Trend Tracker, a noted research report that many of the world’s most successful companies rely upon to understand kids and their rapidly-changing world. As the Trend Tracker’s editor-in-chief and principle writer since its inception, Terence has disseminated his kid-market expertise since 1999. The knowledge and insight Terence has acquired in his role as Trend Tracker editor and KidSay’s Senior VP of Research has led to multiple invitations to speak at Nickelodeon, Disney, McDonald’s, Reebok, Build-A-Bear, Activision, Kraft and Hasbro, among others. In addition to his research experience Terence has a Master’s degree in Therapeutic Education. He spent over two decades teaching emotionally handicapped students and, most recently, teaching inner-city youth at DreamYard High School in the Bronx, NY. Terence’s proudest achievements are being a husband to Katherine and a father to Alden, Selby, and Tristan.