High percentages of American TV viewers are distracted doing other things while they watch, according to a May 2011 Adweek/Harris Poll. Surfing the internet using a computer (56%) and reading a book, magazine or newspaper (44%) are the most common activities people perform while watching TV.
Other popular TV distractions including going on a social networking site (40%) and texting on a mobile phone (37%).
18-34 Most Distracted Online
While many TV advertisers favor the 18-to-34-year-old-demographic, adults in this age group are the most likely to engage in online activities while watching TV by a significant margin. Sixty-eight percent surf the internet using a computer, 21% more than the overall average. Fifty-seven percent go on a social networking site, 42.5% more than the overall average.
Adults in this age group are also far more likely than average to text on a mobile phone (57%, or 54% more than average), shop online (40%, or 38% more than the 29% average), and surf the internet using a mobile phone (30%, or 67% more than the 18% average).
Gen X Biggest Tablet Users
Interestingly, when it comes to surfing the internet with a tablet while watching TV, 18-to-34-year-olds match the 7% overall average. Members of “Gen X,” or 25-to-44-year-olds, nearly double this figure (13%).
Women, College Grads, Older Adults Biggest Traditional Readers
When it comes to reading a book, magazine or newspaper, the two demographic groups most likely to do so while watching TV are women (51%, or 16% more than the overall average), college graduates (also 51%) and adults 55 and up (47%, or 7% more than the overall average).
Women More Distracted than Men by Most Activities
Women are more likely than men to be distracted by the majority of activities listed while watching TV. Notable exceptions are surfing the internet on a mobile phone (20% of men, or 25% more than 16% of women) and surfing the internet on a tablet (8%, or 33% more than 6% of women).
The largest gap in favor of women exists for reading a book, magazine or newspaper, with women 38% more likely to do so while watching TV than the 37% of men who do so.
Higher Education Equals Higher Distractibility
For all activities listed, respondents with a high school diploma or less are least likely to be distracted by them while watching TV. College graduates have the highest percentage of performing all activities while watching TV, except for shopping online, reading a book on an e-reader, and something else.
3 in 4 Adults Watch Web TV
More than three-quarters of American adults (77%) have watched a TV show on the internet rather than on a traditional television, according to other poll results. That figure includes 51% of adults who have a watched a show online they never saw on traditional TV.
About the Data: This Adweek/Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 24 and 26, 2011 among 2,309 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, this data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.