Think you know what your teen is watching? Take the quiz.

By: Neil Mitchell
Media Consultant

These are the surprising answers teens gave to a new survey that asks what they’re watching on their phones.

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Teen Watching Video Content

Think you know what your teen is watching on their phone? Let’s find out.

A recent survey asked 2,400 teenagers in the US what videos they watch, on what device, and where they find new content. The research was conducted by Magid, Verizon’s research partner, as part of an ongoing Video Entertainment Study that looks at video content trends. While it may seem like teens today are consumed by 15-second videos and stories, the study results were a little unexpected.

Ready to find out what’s happening on most teens’ screens? Take the quiz.

What Kind Of Videos Do Teens Watch Most? | Video Content

The answer? C. More than 40% of teens said they watch TV shows and movies. That’s twice as much as any other weekly video viewing activity. Here are the top five answers, in order: 

1. Full-length movies (43%)

2. Full-length TV shows (43%)

3. Music videos (21%)

4. Videos created by specific channels that can be found on services like YouTube and TikTok (21%)

5. Videos created by specific personalities that can be found on services like YouTube and TikTok (19%)

More insight for parents: While it may be surprising that kids are watching traditional content like TV shows and movies, two genres may drive this trend: 68% said they watch comedy and 62% watch action and suspense.

What Apps Do Teens Use To Watch Videos? | Video Content

The answer: B. A typical teen will watch 11 hours of YouTube videos weekly. TikTok is close behind. Teens spend an average of about 10 hours a week watching TikTok video content.

More insight for parents: While TikTok is just behind YouTube in terms of time spent watching videos, TikTok is the app most used by teens, with 69% saying they use the app weekly. (Oh, and BeReal was a trick answer: You can’t watch video on BeReal. Yet.)

How Do Teens Find New Videos To Watch? | Video Content

The answer: C. Friends and family: 59% of teens say that recommendations from friends are how they find new videos. About one-third of teens also discover new videos through online recommendations—the algorithm-driven “for you” recommendations.

More insight for parents: As streaming services and social media apps compete for teens’ attention, it’s essential for parents to keep an eye on those “for you” recommendations to make sure they’re appropriate. And with word-of-mouth also leading the way, parents and teens can have ongoing conversations about what their friends are talking about watching, too.

What Type Of Content Do Teens Watch More Than Any Other Age Group? | Video Content

The answer: C. Teens watch more live streaming video content than any other age group in the study. Live streaming content can vary, from watching streams from friends and family on social media, to watching influencers and celebrities sharing online events or podcast-like streams. Virtual classes are another form of live streamed video in this category.

About one-third of teens watch live streams every day on social media sites such as TikTok, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. And 20% of teens watch live streams more than once daily.

More insight for parents: One-third of Gen Xers and one-quarter of boomers said they watch live streaming video less than once a month or never. Which means parents may want to ask their teens more questions about what live streaming videos they like to watch and why.

On Which Devices Do Teens Watch The Most Video? | Video Content

The answer: C. Internet-connected TV is the top device teens use to watch video content. TV makes up 42% of teen video viewing time. However, smartphone video viewing is closing the gap: It’s the second-most popular way to watch video among teens at 39%.

More insight for parents: All generations watch more video content on internet-connected TVs, but teens watch videos on smartphones more than any other generation. For comparison, 47% of Gen Xers watch videos on TV, while only 22% of them watch on smartphones. For boomers, 64% watch videos on TV, while only 14% rely on smartphones for video viewing.

Well, how did it go? Ideally, this quiz brings a little clarity to any assumptions you may have about what teens are watching on their phones today. And hopefully, it prompts more conversation about what you can watch together.

Monitor what they’re watching online, and talk together about building healthy digital habits with Smart Family.

About the author:

Neil Mitchell is a writer and strategist focused on digital and online safety. He has been working with Verizon on digital parenting and online safety issues for over 15 years.


The author has been compensated by Verizon for this article.

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