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re-fuel-college-students-second-screening-activities-june2013More than 9 in 10 college students claim to use their smartphone, tablet or computer at the same time as they’re watching TV, including 49% who do so every day, according to a study from re:fuel. The study, which finds college students’ Netflix use (63%) to be almost as prevalent as their pay-TV subscriptions (73%), indicates that multi-screening activities tend to be unrelated to TV content, much as with the general population. Students commonly report surfing the web (58%), and playing games (50%) while on a second screen, although 13% say they research products seen on TV and 10% buy them. Their most common second-screen activity is using Facebook or Twitter (63%), although it’s unclear whether that social use is related or unrelated to TV content.

Asked which device they most often use while also watching TV, 54% chose their computer, 36% their smartphone, and 10% their tablet.

College students may not be using their smartphones in order to avoid watching TV ads, though (which could occur around 30-40% of the time). When asked the types of ads they try to avoid, students pointed to pop-up ads or banners ads (55%) first, followed by non opt-in text message ads (49%), pre-rolls (38%), opt-in text message ads (36%) and ads on social media sites (32%).

TV ads, cited by 23% of respondents, were relatively less likely to be avoided. (More details on TV consumption trends among young Americans can be found here.)

Interestingly, sponsored events (17%) and product samples (15%) were among the least likely types of advertisements to be avoided. In fact, students tend to respond well to these sources. 45% report having received product samples during the school year, with two-thirds of those going to purchase the brand. 35% also said they had attended an event on campus sponsored by a brand, with 63% of those going on to purchase the brand.

About the Data: The 2013 re:fuel College Explorer was fielded by Crux Research online in January – February 2013. The study gathered the opinions of 1,528 college students between the ages of 18-34. Respondents are current college students who take at least one course on a physical campus (i.e. are not pursuing online education exclusively).

The sample is drawn primarily from a leading online panel which includes millions of cooperative respondents. Potential respondents are drawn at random within targeted age and gender quotas from the panel. Respondents included 1,122 full-time/394 part-time students; 426 2-year students/899 4-year students/191 working towards a graduate degree; 1,117 college students aged 18-24 and 399 college students aged 25-34.

Data points in the report, unless otherwise noted, are representative of U.S. college students ages 18-34. With probability samples of this size, one can say with 95% certainty that the overall results have a sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points of what they would be if the entire U.S. college student population had been polled. This online sample is not a probability sample.

Quota targets are set using information from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). NCES populations for types of students (full-time/part-time, 2-year/4-year, undergraduate/graduate), as well as demographic information from the U.S. census, are used as weighting targets.

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