The Digital Natives Are Getting Restless Credit: Digital native image via Shutterstock

Those people who grew up with mobile technology, aptly dubbed "digital natives," are more restless than previous generations in their media consumption, new research suggests. They switch between devices and platforms every few minutes and use media to regulate their mood. This raises the bar for marketers who want to engage consumers.

The study, conducted on behalf of Time Inc., by Innerscope Research, used biometric monitoring and point-of-view camera glasses to explore how the proliferation of digital devices and platforms would affect the way different generations of consumers engage with various platforms.

Digital natives switched their attention between media platforms that included TVs, magazines, tablets, smartphones or channels within platforms 27 times per hour, the study found. That was almost double the switching rate of 17 times per hour for "digital immigrants," who first learned about mobile technology as adults.

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Because digital natives spend more time using multiple media platforms simultaneously, their emotional engagement with content is constrained, researchers found. They experience fewer emotional highs and lows and as a result, more frequently use media to regulate their mood — as soon as they grow tired or bored, they turn their attention to something new.

At home, digital natives take their devices from room to room with them (65 percent versus 41 percent for digital immigrants) and are rarely more than an arm's length away from their smartphones, which makes switching platforms even easier.

Storytellers and marketers in this digital age will continue to face an increasingly complex environment with a higher bar for engaging an audience of consumers, said Dr. Carl Marci, Innerscope's CEO and chief scientist.

"As a multiplatform media company, we are constantly looking at how technology affects the way our audiences consume media," said Betsy Frank, chief research & insights officer for Time Inc. "Using biometrics, we were able to drill down even deeper to the emotional experience and subconscious behavior of these audiences. In order to keep digital natives engaged, content creators and marketers will need to think differently. Grabbing them from the beginning is essential, as is content they can snack on and offering multiple access points to every story."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.