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The Distracted

27 percent of all Millennials

Photo credit: iStock.com/Monkeybusinessimages

Making up roughly about a quarter of all Millennials and half of the older cohort (age 25-34), the Distracted tend to be heavily focused on their young families or burgeoning careers. In some ways, this group is the least news-oriented of all Millennials—certainly less so than the younger people we call Explorers and in some ways even less so than some of the younger Millennials who are Unattached. Popular culture is a draw online for the Distracted, along with keeping up with friends—though news is not part of that social conversation. This group may be the most challenging for some publishers to reach.

Demographics: Seven in 10 (68 percent) of the Distracted are either married or have kids, and 75 percent are employed. Most of the Distracted tend to be middle or lower-middle class: 42 percent have incomes between $30,000 and $75,000, and only 18 percent have incomes of more than $75,000.

Percent
Less than $30,000 36%
$30,000-$75,000 42%
$75,000 or more 18%
Missing 4%

Data Source: Questions: Does your total household income fall below $50,000 dollars, or is it $50,000 or higher? And in which group does your total household income fall?

Media Insight Project

The majority of the Distracted have at least some college education, and there is little difference between the education levels of the Distracted and the other older Millennials, the Activists. Twenty-six percent of the Distracted have a high school degree, 17 percent have some college education, and 40 percent have at least a college degree.

A majority of the Distracted are non-Hispanic white (57 percent), which is the highest proportion of whites among the four Millennial groups. However, the Distracted are still racially diverse, as 14 percent are non-Hispanic black and 21 percent identify as Hispanic.

Similar to the Unattached Millennials, the Distracted are relatively evenly split between men (51 percent) and women (49 percent).

Motivation and interest in news: Like the younger Unattached Millennials, the Distracted mostly get their news and information by bumping into it in the course of other activities. Their reasons, however, tend to be different from those of younger more accidental news consumers. Where the Unattached may be too young or inexperienced to care about general news, the Distracted are likely too busy.

What limited news they do follow tends to be of direct relevance and usefulness to their jobs, their kids, or problems in their lives. In other words, they tend to pay attention to information that saves them time and betters their lives. The Distracted, along with the Activists, are among the most likely to report that they use news because it helps them care for their family (20 percent), and they are more than twice as likely to cite this reason than either the Unattached (8 percent) or Explorers (7 percent).

The Distracted are less likely to use news and information for civic or social purposes. Members of this group are less likely than all other Millennials to say news and information helps them take action to address issues they care about (26 percent compared with 35 percent of the Unattached, 38 percent of Explorers, and 44 percent of Activists).

Likewise, only 47 percent of the Distracted say news and information helps them stay better informed to be a citizen. That is lower than any other group. Fully 56 percent of the Unattached cite civic reasons for getting news, which compares to 64 percent of Explorers and 67 percent of Activists. Only about 44 percent of the Distracted say they like to talk with friends or family about what is going on in the news compared with 49 percent of the Unattached, 74 percent of Explorers, and 55 percent of Activists.

Distracted All Millennials
Stay informed to be a better citizen 47% 57%
Like to talk about what's going on in news 44% 53%
Feel connected to community 41% 45%
Take action to address issue 26% 35%

Data Source: uestion: People use news and information in different ways. What are the main reasons you, personally, tend to use news and information?

Media Insight Project

Lacking a strong interest in the news, only 40 percent of the Distracted personally pay for a news subscription, and just another 12 percent use a paid news subscription that someone else buys. However, the Distracted are willing to pay for services when including non-news options. About 9 in 10 report paying for at least one entertainment or news subscription, and they are just as likely as other Millennials to pay for entertainment.

The Distracted are also unlikely to follow many current events topics. Among this group, 1 in 3 follows national politics or government, and 1 in 3 follows science and technology. Less than 1 in 5 (18 percent) follows foreign or international news and business news. Sixteen percent of the Distracted say they do not follow any of the 10 current events topics asked about on the survey, which compares to 16 percent of the Unattached, 6 percent of Activists, and just 3 percent of Explorers.

The Distracted do, however, follow lifestyle and news-you-can-use topics at relatively the same rate as other Millennials.

One area that is followed by relatively small numbers across all age groups is culture and the arts, and here the Distracted (24 percent) are similar to the Unattached (26 percent), while Explorers and Activists are similar to each other (36 percent and 34 percent).

Online activities and social media: The Distracted tend to get less news and information online and from social media than any other group.

They are the only group in which a majority does not get at least 75 percent of its information online. Only 44 percent say they get at least that much of their news online, while 14 percent report getting less than 25 percent of their information online.

The Distracted also do not get a lot of news or information on social media. This group is also less likely than all other Millennials to get news several times a day from YouTube (10 percent vs. 27 percent of the Unattached, 29 percent of Explorers, and 19 percent of Activists). This group is also less likely than younger Millennials to regularly get news and information from Twitter (6 percent), Reddit (2 percent), Tumblr (2 percent), and Instagram (14 percent).

Distracted All Millennials
Facebook 44% 44%
YouTube 10% 21%
Instagram 14% 20%
Twitter 6% 9%
Reddit 2% 5%
Tumblr 2% 5%

Data Source: Question: How often, if at all, do you get news and information from each of the following?

Media Insight Project

This group also does not engage in a participatory way with news when on social media. Among Twitter users, the Distracted are less likely than all others to compose their own tweet about something news-related (11 percent compared with 33 percent of the Unattached, 29 percent of Explorers, and 27 percent of Activists). This group is also less likely than most other Millennials to retweet a story (20 percent vs. 38 percent of the Unattached, 33 percent of the Distracted, and 39 percent of Activists).

The Distracted tend not to worry much that there is too much personal information available online. Only 16 percent report worrying a lot or a good deal about their information online compared with 22 percent of all three other groups. Among those worried, only 1 in 4 of the Distracted worry about government collecting information on them compared with 37 percent of the Unattached, 44 percent of Explorers, and 35 percent of Activists.

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