Second screen isn’t just for the young, finds report

Both young and older Americans are turning to smartphones and tablets to supplement their television viewing experience, but those who are older and more affluent tend to skew towards tablet use, according to findings in a new report from The Nielsen Company.

The report, “The Cross Platform Report, Quarter 2, 2012 – U.S.,” released Jan. 10, reveals that 39 percent of Americans use smartphones and tablets while watching TV at least once a day, and 62 percent say they do so multiple times per week. Eighty-four percent do so at least once a month, the report says.

According to the findings, 25-to-34-year-olds and 55-to-64-year-olds are the most likely to use a tablet more than once per day while watching television, while about half of the 18-to-24-year-olds watch TV on their smartphones once per day.

The Nielsen study also examined the typical types of behaviors people engage in online while watching TV. The data reveal that 36 percent of those 35 to 54 years of age and 44 percent of the 55-to-64-year-olds use the tablet to find about more about the TV program they’re watching.

Visiting social media sites during commercials and programming was popular among younger people. Forty-four percent of 18-to-24-year-olds visit the sites, while nearly 50 percent of 25-to-34-year-olds did so. The 55-to-64 age group was most likely to surf the Web and check e-mail on tablets during shows and commercials.

Other popular tablet-related activities included checking sports scores while watching TV (about one-third of people 25 to 64 years of age). As for smartphones, the heaviest use while watching programs or commercials was checking e-mail. Nearly a third of 25-to-34-year-olds used their smartphones to shop while watching TV.

Dounia Turrill, Nielsen’s Cross-Platform Practice Lead, says the connected community is cross-generational and crosses both ethnic and racial boundaries. “With these trends pointing to continued increases in media consumption, it could be said that consumer choice is driving more than watching, it’s also creating stronger bonds with audiences of all sizes and in all places,” says Turrill.