Study debunks myth youth are immersed in cyberspace

When it comes to teenagers, adults can be quick to make assumptions. Teens stay up too late. They love blaring music. And they’re all techno wizards hooked on the Internet.

But according to a new Ipsos Reid study, it may be time to reconsider that last bit of conventional wisdom. A study on teens and the Internet released yesterday found that youth ages 12 to 17 are spending less time online than adults and consider the Internet less important to their daily lives.


It also found teenagers focus on a limited number of activities — primarily to socialize, download music or play games — and many aren’t comfortable navigating much beyond that or fluent in issues like privacy and security.

"This challenges the assumptions adults make about the technological sophistication of teenagers," said Steve Mossop, president of market research for Ipsos Reid in Western Canada.

He says conventional wisdom — often fuelled by youth experts and marketers — is that adolescents are immersed in cyberspace and are "on a whole different playing field" than their parents. But the research suggests otherwise.

"We can’t assume every teen is an early adopter or a tech-savvy user," he said in an interview. "We shouldn’t make assumptions about teen’s aptitudes ... they’re not all technology wizards."

time online

  • The survey of 1,272 children age 12 to 17 and 1,041 adults found teens spend an average of 13 hours a week online, including "multitasking" by simultaneously watching TV, doing homework or talking on their cellphones. That’s less than adults, who spend 19 hours a week, which may include some time online in the workplace.

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