How do millennials consume digital media?

Media consumption platforms are as expected, but digital literacy is a surprise

Share this video

Day: May 10
Time: 3:45PM - 5:00PM

They are natives of the Internet age, the most digitally connected demographic in history, and the fastest growing consumer segment of society – millennials are different. Their social interactions, friendships and experiences are mediated by digital technologies and they’ve never known any other way of life. They study, think and interact in fundamentally different ways from generations before them and they are ALREADY reshaping media consumption of today. In early May, a group of Toronto school kids participated in the Youth Summit where they spent the day learning and talking about the future of content. Listen to what they had to say!

Video summary

A survey of media consumption among millennials has some of the results you’d expect. Millennials consume media all day through their smart phones – 90% have them – their tablets – 50% have them — and their computers – a 70/30% split between desktops and laptops. An overwhelming 92% consume video content online rather than on TV. Snapchat and Instagram are their applications of choice. They have varied taste in media consumption, and they’re actively going after new video content. These results aren’t surprising. The surprising part is that millennials have a far lower level of digital literacy and far fewer Internet skills than we would expect. Nicole Belanger, a writer and media maker, and Cathy Wing, of MediaSmarts, explain why.

Experts in this video

Writer & Media Maker

Co-Executive Director, MediaSmarts

Video transcript excerpts

“Content makes you embrace your culture, your city, to promote your business, to challenge you, to share moments.”

“My personal takeaway here is that I think a better understanding of the relationships to these platforms will allow us to create content that is more appealing to [the millennials].”

“When we produce anything for youth, we’re working with them hand-in-hand to produce the resources. We also work really closely with industry partners…[For example,] you’ll see we produced this guide with Shaw that was just translated into Arabic…and distributed to 7500 new Syrian families in Canada, which was an amazing project.”

“We have this idea that kids…because they use everything in technology so effortlessly, so fluidly, they are naturally digitally literate. In fact our research shows that [this] is not the case at all…It’s important because they’re a vulnerable population, so it’s important that they [learn] the skills.”

“What we’re finding is that young people aren’t learning these [technology] skills either. They’re not learning them in school as much as we would like, but they’re also not picking them up. They’re not motivated enough to be picking them up on their own. They really like plug-and-play.”

“[Our segment,] ‘Standing up’ was based on some cyber bullying research that we did last year with PREVnet and TELUS. What we looked at were interventions that young people do, and how effective they are. The problem with cyber bullying is when we’re trying to get young people to stand up in bullying…For instance, you should stand up with your friends, and you should defend targets of bullying. Those are two moral principles that everybody can say are good, but they can come into conflict in situations, because situations are never clear cut.”

“…these kids have grown up with media but they still need a lot of guidance and advice from parents and teachers, and they ask us for that when we do the research. They asked for parents and teachers to be involved in teaching them these skills. There’s a role for us to play even though we think that [the millennials] know everything.”

View full transcript