Digital Natives versus Digital Immigrants

If you wonder why your kids drive you crazy, here is a clue. Time Inc. a division of Time Warner, commissioned Innerscope Research to do a study "A Biometric Day in the Life" to show how the proliferation of digital devices and platforms would affect the media consumption habits of "Digital Natives" (consumers who grew up with mobile technology as part of their everyday lives) and "Digital Immigrants" (who first learned about mobile technology in their adult lives).

Digital Natives switch their attention between media platforms (i.e. TVs, magazines, tablets, smartphones or channels within platforms) 27 times per hour, about every other minute. Because they spend more time using multiple media platforms simultaneously, their emotional engagement with content is constrained. They experience fewer highs and lows of emotional response and as a result, more frequently use media to regulate their mood - as soon as they grow tired or bored, they turn their attention to something new. At home, Digital Natives take their devices from room to room with them (65 percent vs. 41 percent for Digital Immigrants) - rarely more than an arm's length away from their smartphones - making switching platforms even easier. And 54 percent say, "I prefer texting people rather than talking to them," compared with 28 percent of Digital immigrants - a significant indicator of how marketers and content creators need to communicate with them.

Tne major implication of these findings is that Digital Immigrants are intuitively linear - they want to see a beginning, middle, and end to stories. For Natives, stories still need a beginning, middle and end, but they will accept it in any order. Digital Natives are subconsciously switching between platforms and can pick up different pieces of a story from different mediums in any order.

"This study strongly suggests a transformation in the time spent, patterns of visual attention and emotional consequences of modern media consumption that is rewiring the brains of a generation of Americans like never before," said Dr. Carl Marci, CEO and Chief Scientist, Innerscope Research. "Storytellers and marketers in this digital age will continue to face an increasingly complex complex environment with a higher bar for engaging an audience of consumers."