American Youth Have $211B to Spend in 2012

Eight to 24 year olds are ready to spend money in 2012. Two hundred eleven billion dollars, to be more precise. According to the 2012 Harris Poll YouthPulse study, the purchasing power of today's youth is something that should not be overshadowed by the spending power of adults. Over half of eight to 12 year olds will spend their own money on candy (61%) and toys (55%) while a quarter will buy books (28%) and one-​in-​five will purchase clothing (19%). Teens, those 13–17, still crave candy, and half (51%) will make a point of treating themselves to sweets. However, clothing (42%) and entertainment, like movie tickets (33%) have become bigger priorities for this older group. 

While the purchasing power of today's youth is strong, it is made even stronger when coupled with the influence these kids have on what parents buy. For example, seven-​in-​ten teens have cell phones (69%) and three-​in-​ten have smartphones (30%). When it comes to smartphones or cell phones, one-​third of teens (34%) say they influence that purchase decision. With over 23 million teens in the United States, that's a lot of influence.

"When we look at what youth today personally own, it's definitely more than the generation before them and immensely more than what kids owned two generations ago. What is also important to remember is that youths are not passive receivers of things," said Regina A. Corso, Senior Vice President for Youth and Education Research at Harris Interactive. "Today's youth actively have input into what they have and what their families have."


Tweens, teens, and young adults have not only more things than previous generations, they also have more consistent, available access to vast amounts of information than their parent or grandparent could have imagined in their youths. Accessibility is made easy by the click of a mouse or the tap of a screen. In fact, over three-​quarters of 8–9 year olds (76%) and up to nine-​in-​ten 16–17 year olds (91%) are on the Internet an hour or more a day, excluding email.

When looking at all types of media, on average, tweens spend 8.4 hours engaged versus teens who spend 12.6 hours engaged with media per day. On average, teens spend 3.6 hours per day online, 2.9 hours watching television, and 1.6 hours each playing video games and listening to an MP3 player.


With all that is surrounding today's youth, it is sometimes easy to forget, at times, that these are still kids. When asked what they believe they will do when they are 30 years old, over four-​in-​five teens (82%) say they will be doing something meaningful with their lives and almost nine-​in-​ten (88%) say they will be in a career they like. One quarter of tweens say they will be the boss of their own company (24%) and be famous (25%). As the 2012 Harris Poll YouthPulse study shows, while they may have unbelievable purchasing power and access to things unimagined in previous generations, kids can sometimes just be kids.

[Source:  "2012 Harris Poll YouthPulse."  Harris Interactive.  26 Oct. 2011.  Web.  31 Oct. 2011.]