The Connected Home

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the typical American home contains more than a few digital devices. But it might surprise some to learn just how many devices there actually are.

According to a recent survey of nearly 700 American adults who have children under the age of 15 living at home, the average household contains 7.3 “screens.”

The survey, which was conducted by technology research company ReportLinker in April 2017, found that TVs remain the #1 item … but the number of digital devices in the typical home is also significant.

Here’s what the ReportLinker findings show:

  • TV: ~93% of homes have at least one
  • Smartphone: ~79%
  • Laptop computer: ~78%
  • Tablet computer: ~68%
  • Desktop computer: ~63%
  • Tablet computer for children age 10 or younger: ~52%
  • Video game console: ~52%
  • e-Reader: ~16%

An interesting facet of the report focuses on how extensively children are interfacing with these devices. Perhaps surprisingly, TV remains the single most popular device used by kids under the age of 15 at home, compared to other devices that may seem to be more attuned to the younger generation’s predilections:

  • TV: ~62% used by children in their homes
  • Tablets: ~47%
  • Smartphones: ~39%
  • Video game consoles: ~38%

The ReportLinker survey also studied attitudes adults have about technology and whether it poses risks for their children. Parents who allow their children to use digital devices in their bedrooms report higher daily usage by their children compared to families who do not do so – around three hours of usage per day versus two.

On balance, parents have positive feelings about the impact technology is having on their children, with ~40% of the respondents believing that technology promotes school readiness and cognitive development, along with a higher level of technical savvy.

On the other hand, around 50% of the respondents feel that technology is hurting the “essence” of childhood, and causing kids to spend less time playing, spending time outdoors, or reading.

A smaller but still-significant ~30% feel that their children are more isolated, because they have fewer social interactions than they would have had without digital devices in their lives.

And lastly, seven in ten parents have activated some form of parental supervision software on the digital devices in their homes – a clear indication that, despite the benefits of the technology that nearly everyone can recognize, there’s a nagging sense that downsides of that technology are always lurking just around the corner …

For more findings from the ReportLinker survey, follow this link.

The “Digital Natives” are Restless …

Digital Natives, Digital Multi-taskingDigital natives” is a term used to describe consumers who have grown up with mobile technology as part of their daily lives – essentially people age 25 and younger.

And man, do these whippersnappers behave differently than the rest of us! “A Biometric Day in the Life,” a newly released research study from Time, Inc., reveals how the myriad digital devices and platforms are affecting the media consumption habits of the Digital Natives compared to the rest of the population.

The salient finding from the Time research: On average, Digital Natives switch their attention between various media platforms a whopping 27 times in a single hour. That’s nearly once every other minute.

[For purposes of the analysis, media platforms includes television, magazines, desktop computers, tablets, smartphones, as well as channels within platforms.]

What’s the impact of this “multi-tasking to the max” behavior? The Time study posits that Digital Natives’ emotional engagement with content is less involved and more constrained.

In fact, the study concludes that these people tend to use media to regulate their mood; if they grow tired or bored, they switch to something else.

The study’s comparison of Digital Natives’ interaction with their digital devices to the rest of the population is also instructive. Natives tend to divide their time equally between digital and non-digital media, whereas the rest of us spend about two-thirds of our time with non-digital media.

Moreover, Digital Natives are significantly more likely to take their devices from room to room with them when they are at home (~65% versus ~40% for the rest of the population). One natural result of this tendency is that it makes switching platforms even easier.

And what about texting? Nearly nine out of ten Digital Natives report that they send or receive text messages on a typical day (compared to half of the rest of the population).

In fact, more than half of Digital Natives state that they “prefer texting people rather than talking to them.” Fewer than 30% of the rest of us feel that way.

Social media behaviors are similar; ~80% of Digital Natives report that they access Facebook at least once per day – far greater than rest of the population accesses (~57%).

The Time survey’s findings suggest that the traditional way of delivering marketing messages with a clear “beginning, middle and end” may be morphing into something dramatically different from what we’ve known.

Dr. Carl Marci, CEO and chief scientist at Innerscope Research as well as a staff psychiatrist as Massachusetts General Hospital, has made several interesting observations about the Time study:

 Patterns of visual attention and emotional consequences may be changing as a result of modern media consumption.

 The brains of a new generation of Americans may be becoming “rewired.”

 Marketers are facing an increasingly complex media environment, making it harder to reach and engage their target audiences.

If Dr. Marci’s observations are accurate, things are going to get much less predictable – and a lot more challenging – for marketers.