'Gen M': Kids Using More Media — Newspapers Low on the List

The California-based Kaiser Family Foundation last week released research on American youth and media use: "Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-Olds." The study consisted of a nationally representative sample of 2,032 kids (3rd through 12th grade).

The somewhat depressing findings (if you're a parent) are that kids now spend an average of 6.5 hours each day with various media, including TV, radio, the Internet, video games, digital music and so on.

According to the study, "new media" are being integrated into or added to traditional media consumption habits because kids are increasingly using multiple media at the same time (i.e., "multi-tasking"). Accordingly, the data showed that during a typical day, 8- to 18-year-olds used the following:

* 81% TV
* 74% radio
* 68% listen to CD/tape/MP3
* 54% use a computer
* 47% go online
* 47% read a magazine
* 46% read a book
* 41% play console video games
* 39% watch videos or DVDs
* 35% play handheld video games
* 34% read a newspaper
* 21% watch prerecorded TV
* 13% go to a movie

In the second bit of bad news for newspapers in the past week, they came in at third from the bottom, which is consistent with other data about young people and their disinclination to read or subscribe to traditional newspapers.

Newspapers need an integrated strategy that recognizes the kind of audience segmentation that the YP industry is confronting. With news readers proliferating and aggregation sites such as My Yahoo! becoming available on wireless devices, newspapers need to move aggressively.

The Kaiser data suggest the next generation will turn to many other forms of new — even traditional — media before they consult newspapers.

The Newspaper Association of America's "Newspapers05" show has a single session devoted to cultivating readership among younger audiences, but many sessions devoted to online issues (presumably where the next generation of readers will be found).

Yet most newspaper sites need to be entirely reinvented if they're to really be competitive for online readers and continue to deliver value to advertisers in an increasingly competitive interactive local marketplace.

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