Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Why the Decline in TV Time among 25-to-34-Year-Olds?

Young adults aren't watching as much television as they once did, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey. People aged 25 to 34 watched TV as a primary activity (meaning the main activity) an average of 2.01 hours a day in 2017, down from 2.22 hours a day in 2007. What's behind the decline?

To answer this type of question, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has created a new query tool that lets researchers dig deeper into its time use data. With the tool, you can extract time use data from 2003 to 2017 for more than 100 primary activities by sex, age, employment status, parenting status, and type of day (average, weekday, or weekend). This is what the data reveal about the television time of young adults...
  • The decline in TV time is limited to men. Men aged 25 to 34 watched TV as a primary activity an average of 2.06 hours per day in 2017, down from 2.56 hours in 2007. Women in the age group spent slightly more time watching television in 2017 (1.95 hours) than in 2007 (1.88 hours). 
  • Two factors are behind the decline in men's television viewing. First, on any given day, fewer men watched TV in 2017 (72 percent) than in 2007 (77 percent). Second, those who watched TV spent less time doing so—an average of 2.87 hours in 2017, down from 3.32 hours in 2007. 
  • In contrast, among women in the age group, there has been no significant decline in the percentage who watch TV on an average day (about 75 percent). Not only that, but women who watched TV spent more time doing so in 2017 (2.62 hours) than in 2007 (2.48 hours). 
What could account for the decline in television viewing among young men? Further exploration with the query tool provides a probable answer: gaming. Between 2007 and 2017, the percentage of men aged 25 to 34 who play games (a category that includes computer games) as a primary activity on an average day grew from 9 to 15 percent. Those who play games are spending more time doing so, the average rising from 2.32 hours per day in 2007 to 2.97 hours per day in 2017. Among women, there has been no increase in the percentage who play games on an average day (7 percent), nor in the time spent gaming among women who play. Gaming, then, is the likely explanation for the decline in television viewing among men aged 25 to 34.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the American Time Use Survey, One-Screen Data Search—American Time Use

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