Gen X Prizes: Media Use by 8 to 18 Year-Olds Is Diverse and Surprising

Findings of recent research from national non-profit Common Sense Media on media habits and preferences of tweens and teens presented to ANA’s Alliance for Family Entertainment, collation of nation’s largest national advertisers.

December 11, 2015, New York, NY – Tweens and teens spend significant time with media and technology every day — but that’s where the stereotypes stop. The Centennial generation consumes more media than they create. There are considerable differences in the way boys and girls engage with media; and all teens use a lot of social media but it is not their favorite media pastime. These are some of the surprising takeaways from the recent Common Sense Media Census of tweens and teens media use, which was presented yesterday in an exclusive webinar for members of the Association of National Advertiser’s (ANA) Alliance for Family Entertainment (AFE).

The new study quantifies screen use, identifies unique types of users, and uncovers patterns that could spark improvements in content, access, and learning. The presentation was hosted by AFE Chairman and Walmart CMO Stephen Quinn for the coalition’s members, who represent some of the biggest brands in the world. The insight was presented to marketers by Common Sense Media executive and child development expert Yalda T. Uhls, Ph.D., author of Media Moms and Digital Dads.

“The study offers a new perspective of how tweens and teens are using media,” Uhls said. “Some of the results support conventional wisdom about how and how much our children use media. Other findings should help marketers rethink assumptions about kids’ lives.”

Key findings from the presentation:

  • Teens (ages 13 to 18) use an average of 9 hours of entertainment per day; tweens (ages 8 to 12) use an average of 6 hours, not including time spent using media for school or homework.
  • On any given day, 34 percent of tweens and 23 percent of teens spend 2 hours or less with screen time, while 26 percent of teens and 11 percent of tweens spend more than 8 hours.
  • Teen boys average 56 minutes a day playing video games, compared to girls’ 7 minutes.
  • Girls spend 40 minutes more a day than boys on social media (1 hour 32 minutes versus 52 minutes).
  • Black teens average 8 hours 36 minutes a day with screen media, compared with 6 hours 29 minutes among Hispanic teenagers, and 6 hours 18 minutes among white teens.
  • Forty-five percent of all teens use social media every day but only 36 percent say they enjoy using social media “a lot,” compared with 73 percent who enjoy listening to music and 45 percent who enjoy watching TV “a lot.” Only 10 percent of teens chose social media as their favorite activity.

“As parents, we want to find ways to use media to support healthy development, learning, and community building,” added Uhls. “It’s encouraging to see marketers stepping up and educating themselves about what their tween and teen consumers need and want from their media options. We might conclude, for example, that given these findings the true reason for social media consumption is not a desire to share but a need to make connections in a complex and often-bewildering world.”

“These insights should result in significantly stronger brands with marketing and media plans that will deliver the 10 percent ROI goals that are established for each advertising member of the Alliance for Family Entertainment,” said Jim Bechtold, co-leader of the ANA Alliance for Family Entertainment.

“We cannot begin to craft responsible communications for American families if we don’t understand how they feel about technology and media and their usage patterns,” concluded Bob Liodice, ANA president and CEO. “With these ongoing webinars, AFE members are able to develop a detailed, 360-degree knowledge of parents and their kids and, even more importantly, keep pace with the constant change that characterizes our digital society.”

To review the complete study click here.


About Common Sense Media
Common Sense is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families and educators thrive in a world of media and technology. We rate, educate, and advocate on behalf of kids, families, and schools. Common Sense offers the world’s largest and most-trusted library of age-based ratings and reviews of all types of content targeted at kids, and our research-based curriculum and tools are used in over 80,000 U.S. schools. For more information, go to:

 About the ANA and AFE

Association of National Advertisers (ANA)
The ANA (Association of National Advertisers) provides leadership that advances marketing excellence and shapes the future of the industry. Founded in 1910, the ANA’s membership includes more than 650 companies with 10,000 brands that collectively spend over $250 billion in marketing and advertising. The ANA also includes the Business Marketing Association (BMA) and the Brand Activation Association (BAA) which operate as divisions of the ANA. The ANA advances the interests of marketers and promotes and protects the well-being of the marketing community. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter, or join us on Facebook.

ANA Alliance for Family Entertainment (AFE)
The AFE is a coalition of national advertisers with family brands supported by the ANA, whose members represent more than $15 billion of U.S. television ad spend. With members including American Licorice, Campbell’s Soup, Clorox, Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Crayola, FedEx, Georgia Pacific, Kellogg, Kimberly-Clark, J.M. Smucker, Johnson & Johnson, IBM, PepsiCo, Post Foods, Procter & Gamble, Rich Products Corp., SC Johnson, Sensio, Six Flags, State Farm Insurance, SUBWAY®, T-Mobile, TiVo, TracFone, Unilever, Verizon Wireless, Wendy’s, and Walmart, the group’s mission is to find, nurture, and support high-quality content the entire family can enjoy on multiple distribution platforms. Since its inception in 1998, the AFE has utilized its collective member strength to help bring to air more than 20 prime-time broadcast network television hits, kept innovative family content in the development pipeline, teamed with YouTube for the industry’s first family content partnership, and created the Search for America’s Newest Scriptwriter contest, the nation’s leading competition for storytellers of tomorrow. For more information visit



Association of National Advertisers
Patty Kerr, 310-344-4487

Common Sense Media
Crista Sumanik, 415-553-6780