The habits of teenagers often stay with them for life. Music was one of my addictions as a teenager. It inspired me to write Music formats and law: commercialisation of 45-rpm records.

A recently released Australian Government survey contains good statistics on the habits of young people today and their use of digital media. It is relevant for developers, distributors and financiers of intellectual property (IP) products for teenagers and young adults. It is useful for commercialisation or IP valuation of a social media website, educational site, online game, software program, or other IT product.

The data is in a major December 2007 Australian Government report titled Media and Communications in Australian Families 2007. The report is available here.

The data was collected in March to June 2007 during a survey of 715 families, in which three-day time use diaries were applied for 1,003 children aged 8 to 17. Some findings stand out and sometimes contrast with use patterns in the mid-1990s.

  • In 98% of households there was at least one computer, compared to 59% in 1996. However not all computers had internet connection.
  • There was at least one game console in 77% in households compared to 58% in 1996.
  • One in five children aged 8 to 17 had a computer in their bedroom, up from around 10% in 1995.
  • Only 15% of households had subscription television. Also, in 2007 one in five Australian children (21%) has a television in their bedroom, slightly fewer than in 1995.
  • If you are 17 years of age, then 90% of your peers has a mobile phone.
  • Teenagers aged 15 to 17 spent an average of 30 minutes a day sending text messages and two and a half hours a day online. This time is split between communicating (45 minutes), homework (25 minutes), online games (23 minutes), social networking (23 minutes) and viewing audio-visual content (14 minutes), along with other activities. Significantly, girls chatted and used social media more than boys.
  • From age 14 onwards, 70% or more of teenagers were engaged in some form of web authorship. Of 17 year olds 78% had user-generated content on the web.
  • Among 16–17 year olds, two-thirds have an online profile on a website such as MySpace, 40% have posted their own photographs or artwork on the web, and one in six have their own blog. Production of the more complex forms of media such as videos or original music was less common, even among older teenagers. Around one in eight 14–17 year olds said that they have a video of their own posted online, fewer than one in 10 had their own music or music compilation posted online.

To keep things in perspective, outdoor physical activities, going out, listing to music, reading, drawing and hanging out with friends remain among the favourite activities of children aged 8 to 17.

Such non-electronic activities take up 51% of the discretionary time of kids, compared to 49% of discretionary time spent by kids on electronic activities. That figure of 51% was the same in 2007 and in 1995. So what has changed? Maybe watching less TV? Comments welcome.

The digital media habits noted in the report are signs to take into consideration as you consider commercialisation of your intellectual property targeted for children or those coming into early adulthood in the next few years. Entrenched habits of teenagers today are likely to stay with them  and support sustainable markets for some years.

To discuss your project and how we might assist, email me or call for a complementary conversation on (+612) 9269 0229.

Noric Dilanchian