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20 April 2017

Teens Comprise Five Different Types of Media Users

Keywords: gaming, media, mobile, peers, teens, tweens, happiness, health, mobile phone, social media, survey, youth communication,

All teens are not the same when it comes to media use. A study in Computers in Human Behavior reveals that teens comprise at least five distinct groups of media users, and that these groups differ in terms of their quality of life.

Take aways

  • Teens can be divided into five different media user profiles:
    1. Low Use
    2. Medium Use
    3. Gaming
    4. Call Preference
    5. High Social Use
  • Teens in the Low Use group have the highest quality of life.
  • Teens in the High Social Use group have the lowest quality of life, but have the best connection with their peers. 

Study information

  • The question?

    Do teens comprise of different groups of media users, and how do these groups differ on perceived quality of life?

  • Who?

    895 10- to 17-year old Swiss adolescents (mean age: 14.1); 43.1% boys (N = 366) and 56.9% girls (N = 484), whereas 88.6% were smartphone users

  • Where?


  • How?

    Participants filled out a paper-and-pencil questionnaire on their use of mobile phones and other media devices, as well as on different use possibilities, such as social media use or online gaming and on problematic mobile phone use (i.e., addictive tendencies regarding mobile phone use). In addition, they filled out a questionnaire measuring their quality of life, including physical well-being, psychological well-being, moods and emotions, self-perception, autonomy, parent relation and home life, social support and peers, school environment, social acceptance and financial resources.

Facts and findings

  • Teens could be divided into five distinct media use profiles:
    1. The Low Use group (20%) showed the least frequent media use; slightly more than half of these teens owned a smartphone.
    2. The Medium Use group (28%) showed a rather average pattern of media use; they mainly used their mobile phone and other media for social communication.
    3. The Gaming group (12%) was dominated by boys who reported using their mobile phones primarily for (online) gaming; their actual mean gaming duration was three times higher than among the other teens.
    4. The Call Preference group (15%) was dominated by girls who reported high levels of calling (mobile phone and landline).
    5. The High Social Use group (25%) was also dominated by girls and marked by heavy use of texting and social networks.
  • Teens in the Low Use group scored the highest on quality of life, whereas teens in the High Social Use group scored the lowest. 
  • Interestingly, compared to all other groups, teens in the High Social Use group indicated to have the best connection with their peers.
  • Critical note: Conclusions about the relation between media user profiles and quality of life should be drawn with caution, because the direction of cause and effect is not clear. Media use could lead to higher or lower quality of life, but it could also be the other way around.