NAA study: Teens value smart phones, news

Newspaper Association of America Foundation
A new study from the Newspaper Association of America Foundation reports that smart phones are “replacing televisions, desktop and laptop computers and other devices as the primary provider of information” [PDF] for young people in the U.S. (An executive summary of the report, also a PDF, is available as well.)

The survey, from the NAA Foundation and the New Media Innovation Lab at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, had 1,500 respondents between the ages of 16 and 20. Among the top findings:

  • Members of this demographic value smart phones, and many pay for their own.
  • They use their phones to connect with friends and information.
  • They are interested in news, with two-thirds visiting a news site monthly, and almost 23 percent visiting only with their phones.
  • They use their phones to find things to do and check the weather when out and about.

The report does not indicate specifically what types of news content are most popular among this age group, but it does note that the numbers should be viewed within the context of several “high profile” news stories that occurred during the study period including Michael Jackson’s death and the swine flu pandemic.

The study suggests that news sites can attract this audience through appropriate use of mobile-specific features, but they also risk losing them if their mobile presentation is seen as inadequate:

“Any user can type in a URL from a mobile phone, but it does not mean the experience is a good one. Make sure your site can be viewed and navigated from a mobile device, including smart phones, tablets and netbooks. Headline delivery and even location-based content, such as a going-out guide or news near you, can be done as a mobile web app or as a “native” app programmed specifically for iPhones or Androids. Native apps are especially useful when the user is tapping into the hardware of the phone, such as using the built-in camera, video or audio to interface with content.”

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