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Why Online Researchers Should Be Afraid of Children

 

Blog Scary Kid

 

Who’s your favorite scary kid? Billy Mumy’s classic turn in the “Twilight Zone” episode “It’s a Good Life” gets our vote. Linda Blair’s bravura demon-possession turn in “The Exorcist” bears careful consideration. Damien in “The Omen?” Also a candidate. And those ghostly twin girls in “The Shining” are guaranteed to give you the creeps.

 

Whether they realize it or not, fear of the young will be coming in waves for online research providers and their clients who depend on people taking surveys on desktop and laptop computers. Gen Z, which makes up 26% of all Americans, is rising fast as a consumer force, and how this youthful horde relates to personal computers should scare online researchers out of their wits.

 

For sellers and buyers of online sample and technology, Nielsen’s Total Audience Report for the first quarter of 2017 reads like something out of H.P. Lovecraft or Stephen King. The average member of Gen Z – ages 2 to 20 in the Nielsen study – spent 8 minutes a day going online with personal computers. Only 19% of the Z-ers connected to the internet with a PC even once a week. This represents a huge generational chasm, even though older generations also decisively prefer mobile to PCs.

  • Millennials and Baby Boomers each averaged 62 minutes a day online via desktops or laptops. For Gen X members, it was 82 minutes a day.
  • Conversely, the average Millennial spent 171 minutes a day using a smartphone and 34 minutes using a tablet — totaling 3 hours and 25 minutes of mobile digital access per day. That’s more than three times the PC-online connectivity Millennials had on personal computers. Only 50% of Millennials used a PC once a week or more to connect online.
  • Gen X members spent 156 minutes on smartphones and 46 on tablets, for 3 hours and 22 minutes of average mobile connectivity per day. 42% did not use a PC even once a week to make connections.
  • Baby Boomers also are fully on board with mobile: 149 minutes of digital access on smartphones and 36 minutes on tablets, for a total of 3 hours and 5 minutes a day – triple the time spent on personal computers. 44% of Boomers didn’t manage a weekly connection via PC. 
  • African Americans and Hispanics remain particularly invested in smartphones – 177 minutes a day for African American Millennials and 193 minutes for Hispanics, putting them 3.5% and 12.9%, respectively, above the generational average.
  • Comparing Q1 2017 to Q1 2016, mobile usage has skyrocketed across generations. Millennials’ average daily time on mobile was up 52 minutes a day (a 34% increase) and the gains were 61 minutes (43.3%) for Gen X and a whopping 80 minutes (76.2%) for Boomers.

Nielsen didn’t measure Gen Z’s mobile use because of youth privacy restrictions, but you can safely assume that when it comes to mobile, they’re all-in. The oldest members of Gen Z were just 10 when iOS and Android smartphones came out. Most youngsters won’t remember a world without smartphones.

 

As we said, these are scary times for online research, and it’s only going to get worse. But there’s still plenty of hope. Knowledge and understanding will overcome fear, and you can start reducing your fear factor immediately by learning more about mobile research. For starters, you’ll need information to make an intelligent choice between in-app mobile solutions that are unique to smartphones and tablets, and “mobile optimized” methods that merely shoehorn online surveys onto smaller screens. For a productive, scare-free conversation, just get in touch at solutions@mfour.com.

 

And for a quick, entertaining video introduction to in-app mobile, just click here.