In ministry, it is important to understand your audience. Just like missionaries must learn another culture, youth ministers must learn and stay current on youth culture. The Pew Internet & American Life Project recently surveyed teenagers 12 to 17 years to learn the scope of their technology usage. Here is what they discovered:
- 87% of U.S. teens aged 12-17 use the internet, up from 73% in 2000.
- 51% of teenage internet users say they go online on a daily basis, up from 42% in 2000.
- 13% of American teenagers – or about 3 million people – still do not use the internet.
What They Do
- 89% send or read email.
- 84% go to websites about movies, TV shows, music groups, or sports stars they are interested in.
- 81% play online games.
- 76% go online to get news or information about current events.
- 75% send or receive instant messages.
- 57% go online to get information about a college, university, or other school they are thinking about attending.
- 55% look for news or information about politics and the presidential campaign.
- 43% buy things online, such as books, clothing, or music.
- 38% send or receive text messages using a cell phone.
- 31% look for health, dieting, or physical fitness information online.
- 30% look for information about a job online.
- 26% look for religious or spiritual information online.
- 22% look for information online about a health topic that’s hard to talk about, like drug use, sex health, or depression.
- 84% report owning at least one personal media device: a desktop or laptop computer, a cell phone or a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA).
- 44% say they have two or more devices.
- 16% report that they do not have any of these devices at all.
- 12% have three.
- 2% report having all four of those types of devices.
- 51% of online teens usually choose the landline telephone when they want to talk with friends.
- 24% said they will most often use instant messaging.
- 12% prefer to call friends on their cell phone.
— 45% of teens own a cell phone.
- 5% use email most often to communicate with friends.
- 3% prefer to use text messages.
Where They Surf
- 78% of online teens say they have gone online from school, up from 64% in 2000.
- 73% of home teen users go online from a computer located in an open family area.
- 54% of online teens say they have gone online at the library, up from 36% who reported this in 2000.
- 26% of teens who go online from home do so from a private area like a bedroom.