Acumen InsightsBlog

Digital Natives Switch ‘Em Up

Time, Inc. commissioned a study to show how the proliferation of digital devices and platforms would affect the media consumption habits of two generations—Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants. Participants wore biometric belts measuring emotional engagement and glasses with embedded cameras that monitored which medium or platform they were using and when they altered their visual attention.


Digital Natives (grew up with mobile technology as part of their everyday lives) switch their attention between media platforms (i.e. TVs, magazines, tablets, smartphones or channels within platforms) 27 times per hour, or about once every 2 minutes.


Because Digital Natives 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 soon as they grow tired or bored, turn their attention to something new. Digital Natives also take their devices from room to room with them (65% vs. 41% for Digital Immigrants) making switching platforms even easier.


Half of Digital Natives say “I prefer texting people rather than talking to them” compared with 28% of Digital Immigrants (who first learned about mobile technology in their adult lives), a significant indicator of how marketers and content creators need to communicate with this younger generation.