Reaching young people with traditional survey methods is becoming increasingly difficult. Young people today are less likely to use a landline phone than their adult counterparts. This has made it more difficult to reach young people, and to produce reliable estimates of the attitudes and activities of young people, especially those in college. In this session, we will discuss some of the unique issues encountered when surveying young people, and some possible solutions, such as online surveying. Some results from a recent survey of young people that used traditional phone and nontraditional online survey methods will be presented and discussed.

PDF of the presentation from the 2006 Respondent Cooperation Workshop, put on by the Council for Marketing and Opinion Research (CMOR) in San Antonio, TX.


  1. To reverse decline in participation, must:
  • Increase cell phone only surveys.
  1. Arbitron test – cell only doesn’t need payment for minutes anymore so can survey them.
  • Found people willing to do a short survey at the same rate as landline people.
  • Used RDD Cell exchanges.
  • Data was similar in cell versus landline so far.
  • Now starting a web survey for diary collection.
  1. Gilmore – not a huge amount of people willing to do the test.  Left answering machine message, small percent called back.
  • Found that for longer survey 12 minutes = $20
  • For shorter survey 10 minutes = $10
  1. Online panel sample SSI – always get money.
  • Online panelists conditioned to payment of some kind.
  1. Young adult response better if Mom, sister, or spouse is in the house.
  • Give the parent incentive money.
  • Make parent contact close to kid contact.  Send thank you card.
  • More and more need permissions of a parent (11-17).
  • HIS (Health Immunization Study) immunization survey – hard to get teens.
  1. Journal Public Health provides stats of cell phone usage currently.
  2. Have young people involved in writing online evites, short text message type.
  3. Immigrant distrust – do a special sensitivity course for interviewers.
  4. Sue (Hutchinson Cancer Center) used a black envelope with Sugar Ray stamp.
  5. Don’t call Thursday night.  Young people party, go out, and go home on the weekend, too busy.  Call during the day, as they work at night.  Slight bump in contact rate occurs if you do this.
  6. NMR – use priority mailers for young adults.
  • Use personal incentives – parents and specific to kids.
  1. West – go to young male first, even if female answers; do a call back.