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Report: Kids and Teens Spending More Time, Money Online

Laurie Sullivan
Media Post
July 7, 2009

Marketers looking to connect with kids will find them online. No surprise there -- but what may be surprising is that those kids are more willing than ever to spend money online, according to a report. Separate studies from research firm Nielsen and virtual world WeeWorld released this week suggest that kids are spending more time on the Web. While the research firm Nielsen reveals the online behavior of kids ages 2 to 11, WeeWorld looks at the time spent and spending habits of those age 12 to 18.

The time spent on the Web among children ages 2 to 11 has increased 63% in the last five years, from nearly 7 hours in May 2004 to more than 11 hours online in May 2009. Time spent among kids outpaced the increase for the overall population, which grew 36% in the past five years, all according to Nielsen. In May 2009, this age group comprised nearly 16 million, or 9.5%, of the active online users -- which suggests that the growth rate of kids online outpaces the overall Internet population, according to the research firm.

Since 2004, the number of kids online has increased 18%, as compared to 10% for the total active population -- with a fairly even split between boys and girls, Nielsen says. Boys spent 7% more time online than girls, while girls viewed 9% more Web pages than boys did in May 2009.

Lauren Bigelow, GM of North America and SVP of marketing at WeeWorld, believes that more kids are turning to online activities because they can express themselves freely. As kids build online and offline identities, they look for tools that promote self-expression in communities. Nearly half -- 45% -- of the more than 4,200 teens who participated in the WeeWorld study in late May say they now spend more time online and belong to between two and four online communities.

The survey looked at time spent online and spending habits, asking teens multiple-choice questions. Based on the WeeWorld survey, teens will spend more despite the current economy. The funds to make purchases will come from allowances, with 31% of the kids revealing that they receive more money now than in the past, while 26% still claim to get the same amount.

About 34% of teens asked said "anything fun" online is worth paying for, followed by 22% who believe that expressing themselves and their passions is of value, and 13% who will spend to get more access to games. "More than half of the kids have more money to spend this year, compared to what they had in the past," Bigelow says. "Although parents are not spending as much, kids say their parents are giving them more or at least the same allowance as they had last year."






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