I'm Hanging Up Now: Millennial, Gen Z Smartphone Usage Drop, 65+ Adds Premium TV Time

We know about young consumers fondness with everything digital. But this doesn’t mean all usage goes higher. Apparently, not during a pandemic.

In the third quarter of last year, Nielsen says, 18-34 year-olds smartphone usage sank -- a lot. Down 61% -- nearly two hours/20 minutes less a day. This means their consumer usage now total two hours/53 minutes down from four hours/45 minutes the year before.

More at-home work and schooling did change everything last year. So we can imagine that means less on-the-go texting, speaking on the phone, and other messaging. But more than two hours day?

Was mobile activity transitioning to more permanent at-home digital media devices? Yes, but it was still minor.

Laptop and desktop usage of the internet rose three minutes (to 32 minutes a day) for that demo -- and two minutes more (to one hour/22 minutes) when it comes to TV-connected usage.



One side of the story to consider in all of this: For those young consumers, CTV daily usage is now more than live/time-shifted -- one hour/22 minutes versus one hour/12 minutes -- making 34s the first group to do this.

By itself, the drop in smartphone use alone would be alarming for one demographic group. But there was a change overall. The 18-34 demo witnessed overall daily media usage dropping almost two and a half hours -- to seven hours/38 minutes from 10 hours/5 minutes.

On the flip side, those at the other end of the demo spectrum -- those 65 years and older -- still spend the most time with media, 11 hours/53 minutes a day (down 55 minutes from a year ago). Still, that is almost five hours per day more than those 18-34s!

And for TV all is not lost with that older group. Those 65 years and old increased live/time shifted TV usage -- though not by much. (The only group to do so.) Those consumers added a minute to a leading six hours/39 minutes in the third quarter. However, the same group added 10 more minutes to those new premium TV connected platforms.

Is this a good story for major brand TV advertisers? Sure, we still have commercial time-shifted skipping and less messaging on CTV platforms. But any growth tells a story.

1 comment about "I'm Hanging Up Now: Millennial, Gen Z Smartphone Usage Drop, 65+ Adds Premium TV Time".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 29, 2021 at 9:33 a.m.

    Wayne, the Nielsen report tries to explain this huge" decline" in  smartphone usage as caused in part by new tabulating methods and, possibly there were new data sources involved as well. So the "decline" may not be real if the previous year's tally was, somehow, inflated. I assume that Nielsen will soon provide a more detailed answer to account for this sudden drop in activity---especially during the "stay-at-home" pandemic.

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