Social networks and mobile devices may be less popular than thought for younger generations, study claims

Social media and tablet use are further down the pecking order for upcoming generations than the hype would suggest, according to a research study of the online habits of ‘millennials’.

Pattern: One of the five 'emerging personas' pinpointed in the study

The study was carried out by Bite and Redshift Research and surveyed 2,000 people between the ages of 17 and 31 in a bid to better understand how younger people spend their time online. It found that 43 per cent of respondents didn’t use social networking site Twitter at all, while 59 per cent claimed to spend less than three hours a week on Facebook.

Furthermore, 65 per cent of millennials said the majority of their internet access was done via a laptop or desktop PC as opposed to a tablet or smartphone, and marketers were warned that the complexity of consumer behaviours should be thoroughly understood.

Claire Davidson, insight and strategy director at Bite, said: “There have been so many studies of this generation and many have painted a far too simplistic picture of how 17-31 year olds actually behave.

“A failure to understand their real behaviour means brands will fail to provide them with content and services that fit with and enhance their lives. It is time we are realistic about this generation and what they do online.”

According to the study, the average millennial spends 108 hours a year browsing online for work or study reasons and 77 hours reading news. Less of a priority was Twitter, at 71 hours a year on average for users, and looking up celebrity gossip, which took up just 36 hours.

Meanwhile, reading books was found to be a more popular pastime than may have been previously thought with 37 per cent of respondents considering themselves avid readers. Almost two thirds of women (61 per cent) said they were more likely to spend free time reading books than playing online games.

The research also framed five ‘emerging personas’ from the responses to boil down five main behavioural patterns.

Eleven per cent of people fitted into the ‘emerging technocracy’ category; digitally engaged people who were likely to be high-earners and societal leaders. The ‘casually engaged’ were at the opposite end of the scale at 16 per cent, signifying those on low incomes with limited access to technology.

In between were digital window shoppers (28 per cent), who were less digitally engaged than their peers; digital socialites (24 per cent) who were very active in online communities; and dynamic media junkies (21 per cent), who were said to be the most technically literate and fully immersed in various media platforms.

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