January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Grabbing the teens' attention online might be harder than anyone thought

E-retailers focusing on the teen market better sharpen their marketing efforts because teens 12-17 don't spend nearly as much time online as once was thought. A survey out today from Jupiter Communications Inc. and Media Metrix Inc. shows that teens spend 303 minutes a month online, vs. 728 minutes by adults. Furthermore, the study shows that teen boys make surfing decisions based on their interest, whereas teen girls look for familiar brands and community. Biggest Internet users: 35- to 49-year-olds who average 804 minutes a month. Jupiter's analysts believe teens' Internet use is low because of teens' active schedules, with school and after-school activities; necessity of sharing online time at home with other family members; and the perception of the Internet largely as an entertainment and communication tool, not as a productivity tool. Teen boys and girls are represented online equally. But teen boys focus on technology, entertainment, and time diversions, seeking out games, building Web pages, downloading software, and downloading music files while teen girls are more goal-oriented in their surfing efforts; they gravitate toward reading online periodicals, sending electronic greetings, doing homework, and taking part in communication. Teen girls also have a high affinity for off-line brands, both in media and shopping. In addition, teen boys surf more actively than teen girls, visiting a wider number of sites. June 2000 Media Metrix data show that males averaged 301.2 unique page views, while females on average viewed 271. Boys visited, on average, 47 domains, whereas girls visited 32.

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