What do Millennials do with their free time? What activities do they take on — and do they watch TV programming related to their hobbies and interests?

These are some of the questions answered by an April 2013 MTV report, “Getting Millennials Going: Interests, Hobbies and Activities.” The study is part of Knowing Youth, an ongoing analysis of Millennial attitudes and behaviors that combines large-scale global studies with regular updates on specific issues and geographies. The following are some key insights about Millennials’ participation in hobbies, as well as how likely they are to tune into TV content related to them:

Millennials enjoy many interests — and they are independent-minded about seeking out activities.

  • They are personally involved in 8 or 9 activities and take part in 4 or 5.
  • 7 in 10 are driven by personal gratification and enjoyment.
  • Only 2 in 10 get involved in activities just because their friends are doing it.

They connect with others through activities and interests, but they’re also happy to spend time alone doing what they love.

  • 2 out of 3 are personally interested in social networking.
  • 9 in 10 read, take photos, or dance around alone in their bedroom for fun.
  • “Solo” activities bring Millennials together — half who swim, go on bike rides, and cook do so with friends or family.
  • They play team sports to get fit and be sociable in equal measure.

Their reasons for getting involved in activities run deeper than “just to be cool.”

  • 8 out of 10 who do hip hop dance and free running got involved to develop personally and learn new skills.
  • They’re not all skater kids or surfer dudes – just 10% are into surfing, skateboarding, or snowboarding.

Some are tempted by some unusual sports – but most don’t want to get their feet too far off the ground.

  • 1 in 5 are interested in trying sports that they consider to be “off the beaten track” like climbing.
  • For most, sports like bungee jumping and sky diving are too extreme (except in Germany).

Millennials’ top five interests are social networking, reading, football/soccer, swimming, and food/cooking.

  • Other top interests: biking, photography, bowling, singing, and dancing in the bedroom.<.li>
  • They don’t take part in all of the activities that interest them, however: they participate the most in social networking, reading, cooking, football/soccer, and biking.

Many get involved in their interests by watching related TV programs.

  • 95% of those interested in football/soccer and 80% of those interested in cooking watch programming on the subject.
  • They watch for fun and to learn – 90% tune in because they’re interested, 84% for fun, 81% to learn, and 76% to stay up to date.
  • Watching to learn is important for both genders (87% female, 76% male).

Millennials enjoy content about activities they don’t participate in – but those who engage in the least common activities are the most interested in related TV programming.

  • 80-95% of those who participate in less common activities like hip hop dance, tennis, motor sports, snowboarding, doing magic, acting are likely to watch related content on TV.

Some activities are more fun to do than to watch on TV, however.

  • 2 out of 3 who love to ride their bike would not watch a TV program about biking.
  • 3 out of 4 who are into reading would not watch a TV program on the subject.

They report being most likely to watch programs about football/soccer, snowboarding, acting, doing magic, and playing golf.

  • Other program topics that at least 75% say they would be likely to watch: ice skating, tennis, hip hop dance, motor sports, food/cooking, contemporary dance, netball, fishing, and basketball.