Nearly All Teens Have Web Skills

    July 27, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

They are online, half of them on a daily basis, and use the Internet for news, games, and instant messaging.

A Pew Internet and American Life survey reaffirms something that marketers have realized for some time: most teens have found their way online. The study found that 87 percent of 12-17 year olds use the Internet, which would be about 21 million of them.

Nearly 11 million visit the Web every day. In 2000, about 17 million teens used the Internet, with 7 million hitting online sites every day.

The immediacy of instant messaging has much more appeal for teens than conventional email. That should make executives at sites like Yahoo, AOL, and MSN quite pleased, as they are significant providers of IM services. Those services all drive advertiser revenue to their providers.

The Pew study does show a disturbing trend where limited income and access to Internet connections define who is and isn’t online. Though computers and Internet access have become more affordable thanks to brutal price competition, it hasn’t been enough to make them as omnipresent as televisions in the home.

Recent drives by Yahoo and AOL to extend the reach and appeal of their messaging services to mobile phones may be attempts to take more advantage of this trend. By making their IM offerings present on mobile phones, those companies can better reinforce their brands and retain those younger customers as they grow up and enter college.

As teens become adults, or more specifically, members of the 18-34 demographic that keeps all kinds of executives in product and service businesses awake at night thinking of ways to reach them, they become more valuable to IM providers. Internet advertising has become a multi-billion dollar business, and is still growing.

And portal companies like AOL and Yahoo want to grow up right alongside their teenage customers.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.