How do Canadian teens interact with their media?

Canadians youth are spending a lot of time every day interacting online, watching TV, listening to the radio and playing video games - often doing two or more at once.

Canadians youth are spending a lot of time every day interacting online, watching TV, listening to the radio and playing video games – often doing two or more at once.

In a Uthink survey completed for Strategy magazine on April 18, youth from across Canada shared their opinions on media usage, from TV and radio to the Internet and video games.

Canadian youth across the country were absolutely in sync with their views on media usage and viewing habits. There was very little variance in the proportionate numbers between male and female responses and between the provincial responses.

Of the 14- to 21-year-olds who were surveyed, 88.7% spend over one hour per day watching TV, and 74% are on the Internet for more than one hour every day. What’s more, 54.1% are also listening to the radio for more than one hour a day and 31% are playing video games for at least one hour a day.

Findings are based on a representative national cross-section of 1,048 youth (491 aged 14 to 17; 557 aged 18 to 21), conducted from April 12 through 16, 2002 (confidence interval + 3%). Survey design, development, IT implementation, fielding and data analysis, along with top line reporting, were completed within five working days.


How much? With whom? And what are their favourite shows?

* 53% reported watching TV while doing their homework.

* 56% reported watching one to two hours of TV a day, while 26% spend three to four hours in front of their TV set. This was consistent between males and females and across all age groups surveyed.

* 43% reported that they usually watch TV alone, while 34% usually spend TV time with the family. Of course, this number shifted, based on age. While 42% aged 14 to 17 watched TV with their families, only 27% aged 18 to 21 were doing the same. 22% of the 18- to 21-year-olds were watching TV with friends vs. 9% aged 14 to 17.

* The list of favourite shows was quite extensive and showed a tremendous range, but there were some clear winners. 11.6% of females aged 14 to 17 selected Friends, 4.6% selected Gilmore Girls, 4.5% chose Fortier (a popular Quebec show) and 4.3% picked The Simpsons.

* Of the males aged 14 to 17, 12.4% chose The Simpsons as their number one show while Friends came in at #2 with 6.7% of the vote, and Family Guy, Seinfeld , Survivor and That ’70s Show were neck and neck for the number-three spot.

* Other shows that made the top 10 list: females chose Dawson’s Creek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Watatatow (in Quebec) and E.R; Guys selected Whose Line Is it Anyway?, Boston Public, C.S.I. and Frasier along with those listed above.


How many hours per day are usually spent online?

* 4% overall reported spending more than six hours a day online (4.3% of 18- to 21-year-olds and 3.7% of 14- to 17-year-olds). Ontario (6.7%) and B.C. (4.8%) showed higher usage here, compared to Quebec (2%), the Prairies (3.1%) and the Maritimes (3.4%).

* 25% reported spending less than one hour online. Of this group, 16.7% were males and 30.7% were females.

* 40% spend one to two hours a day.

* 24% are online three to four hours a day, and 6.9% spend five to six hours a day.

What online activities are topping the charts?

* 98% of all youth reported using the Internet to e-mail friends. 64% of 18- to 21-year-olds are e-mailing their friends every day. 42% of 14- to 17-year-olds are also e-mailing their friends every day. Everyday usage was higher amongst females as compared to males (60.7% vs. 42%). 32% of 14- to 17-year-olds e-mail their friends a few times a week and 12% a few times a month.

* ICQ or Instant Messaging was almost as popular. 55% of 14- to 17-year-olds are using this tool every day. 47% of 18- to 21-year-olds are on ICQ or Instant Messaging every day as well.

* 22% of the 14- to 17-year-olds reported chatting online and participating in discussion groups every day, 19% a few times a week, and 22% a few times a month.

* 34% of males and females, equally, reported playing games online a few times a month. 43% say they never play games online.

* When it comes to downloading, trading and listening to music online, 34% do it every day, 34% a few times a week and 19% a few times a month.

* Videos are downloaded, traded or viewed by 28% of youth a few times a month. 15% of males and females are doing one of the above a few times a week.

* When it comes to doing research and homework, 98% are using the Internet, with over 51% doing homework a few times a week online.

How do youth find good Web sites and what are the favourites?

* Only 5.1% said they found a good Web site by following a banner link.

* Search engines ranked as the most popular source, at 26.4%.

* Many reported finding a good Web sites by accident (23.6%).

* Word of mouth was also important – 15.5% said they found Web sites through recommendations by friends in person, 11.7% said friends e-mailed good Web sites to them, and 9.4% heard about Web sites through recommendations via instant messaging.

* The top 10 Web sites identified by females aged 14 to 17, ranked by popularity, are: Hotmail, Yahoo, Google,, MSN, Neopets,,, and

* The top 10 Web sites identified by males aged 14 to 17, ranked by popularity are: Hotmail, Yahoo, Google, MSN,, (owned by same company as Uthink),,, and

Video Games

How many hours a day are usually spent playing video games?

* 68% overall told us that they do not play video games (84% of females and 42% of all males). The number increased to 71% in the 18- to-21 age category and was also slightly higher in Quebec (74%) than the other provinces.

* 27% reported playing video games one to two hours a day. Of this group 48% were males and 14% were females.

* Only 3.6% reported playing video games three to four hours a day and 1% play for five to six hours.

What are the hottest video games today?

* The top 10 video games among males aged 14 to 17 in order of ranking are: Final Fantasy, Starcraft, Tony Hawk, Counter Strike, Half Life, NBA, Gran Tourismo 2, The Sims, Command and Conquer, and Diablo.

* While a smaller percentage of females compared to males ranked their favourite video games, their top 10 list in order of preference is: Mario (various), Tony Hawk Pro Skater, Final Fantasy, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Zelda, Donkey Kong, and Yochi.

When asked about their views on advertising in their video games, Canadian youth had strong opinions

* 70% of males and 71% of females would agree to more advertising within video games if it meant that games would cost less.

* 51% reported having seen advertising in a video game (59% of males, 34% females).

* What advertising did they recall? 29% of the females who recalled seeing advertising remembered ads for another game by the same company, 14% recalled ads for Doritos, 14% remembered seeing ads for Samsung, various skateboard companies, Slim Jims and Super Mario.

* Of the males who recalled seeing advertising in their video games, there was a much wider response and a long list of products that included: 17% who recalled ads for clothing, 9.4% who identified Coca-Cola, 7.6% who said other games by the same company, 5.7% EA Sports, 3.7% Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Quiksilver and Tommy Hilfiger. Other companies mentioned included Adidas, Levi’s, Nokia, PlayStation, Porsche, Salomon, Sony, Slim Jim, and, believe it or not, Tom Clancy books.

* 21.9% could not recall seeing advertising in a video game.


Tune-in. The time and place.

* 33% listen to the radio while doing homework.

* 46% of the total polled listen to the radio for less than one hour a day.

* 32% are tuning into the radio for one to two hours a day, and 16% are listening for three to four hours per day.

* The favourite location for radio listening is in the car ( 36%), followed by the bedroom (29%) and hanging out with friends (11%).

When it comes to running contests using the media, where are 14- to 17-year-olds responding?

* 77% of all youth polled said that they enter contests online.

* 66% reported never calling in to a radio station to enter a contest.

* 62% said that they never enter a contest seen on TV.

Bonnie Lester is VP, marketing at Uthink, a Toronto-based direct marketing and online research company. She can be reached at: