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Surprisingly few teenagers addicted to social networks, new research shows

LONDON - Teenagers are still spending more time watching television than they do online, and only 40% of them regularly use social networks, research suggests.

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A report published by Forrester looking at the media habits of 12- to 17-year-olds in the European Union found that teenagers said they spent an average of 10.3 hours a week watching television, compared with 9.1 hours surfing the internet for personal reasons.

Both activities, however, trailed behind videogaming, with kids in the EU playing around 11.7 hours a week playing games on consoles and via computer. Forrester notes in the report that gaming is seen as a social activity, with teens far more likely to play computer games at friends' houses than adults.

Contrary to the image portrayed for young people spending their lives on MySpace and Bebo, well under half of those who are online said that they were visiting such sites on a weekly basis.

This compares with around 30% of the adult online population visiting social networking sites once a week or more.

The most popular activity for teenagers online is watching video, mainly via YouTube, although in France DailyMotion dominates. Around a third said they read blogs on a weekly basis, while 20% said that they published a blog.

As with other research, Forrester found that teenagers are still multitasking with nearly half chatting to friends online at the same time as watching television.

Writing on the Forrester blog, research analyst Nick Thomas said: "This is a clear opportunity for content providers and marketers to engage in real-time online activity around TV content. ITV1's idea of a live Twitter feed around its Saturday night drama 'Primeval' was a step in the right direction, but with two major flaws: most teens don't use Twitter, and Primeval got decommissioned."

The report draws on a survey of nearly 1,400 internet users aged 12-17 across the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden.

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