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Surprise: Parents more Web-savvy
New Nielsen study says teens bored quickly, frustrated easily online.
January 31, 2005: 11:31 AM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The cliché of Web-savvy teenagers clicking circles around their parents is simply not a reality, according to a new study by the Nielsen Norman Group that challenges Internet stereotypes of teen "technowizards."

The study showed that teens quickly succumb to Internet ennui and, unlike their parents, give up quickly on sites that are difficult to navigate.

"When using Web sites, teenagers have a lower success rate than adults and they're also easily bored," the study concluded. "To work for teens, Web sites must be simple, but not childish, and supply plenty of interactive features."

The Nielsen study asked 38 teens between the ages of 13 and 17 to perform tasks on 23 specific Web sites. The study measured a success rate of 55 percent for teenage users, lower than the 66 percent rate found for adult users.

The success indicates a proportion of time the users were able to complete a task on a target site. Teens were found to have poor reading skills, unsophisticated research strategies and a "dramatically" lower patience level, according to the study.

"Boredom is the kiss of death in terms of keeping teens on your site," according to the study. "That's the one stereotype our study confirmed: Teens have a short attention span and want to be stimulated. That's also why they leave sites that are difficult to figure out."

Most of the study sessions were conducted in the U.S., focusing on disadvantaged urban areas and affluent suburbs in California and a rural area of Colorado. A minority of the studies were conducted in Australia, where Web-using teens revealed that they are "nuts about sports."

Nielsen representatives could not be reached for comment.  Top of page

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