Teens hampered on the internet by poor literacy skills

LONDON - Teenagers are not as technologically savvy as people might think, with a new survey showing that they are not nearly as skilled as adults at navigating the web, partly due to poor reading skills.

The research, published by Nielsen Norman Group, says that teenagers have immature research strategies and an unwillingness to tough it out on difficult websites. Overall, their success at completing set web tasks was 55%, compared with an average of 66% for adults.

The research also warns against the perils of trying to reach children and teenagers via the same website, saying that the word "kid" is a repellent for teenagers.

'Teenagers on the Web' looked at 38 users between the ages of 13 and 17. Other findings include the fact that teenagers do not like heavy, glitzy or flashing graphics, and they do like sites that have social and interactive elements, so they can make new friends and achieve a sense of belonging.

Jakob Nielsen, principal of Nielsen Norman, said: "Internet marketers must design for the teens we have, not the teens they wished we had. Teenagers' low reading skills and lack of critical research abilities may be failures of the educational system, but they are realities, and you have to cater to this audience if you want to win on the web."

The report is available to buy at NNGroup.com.

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