November 25, 2014

New Report from Pew Internet: The Internet As a Diversion and Destination

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This new report was written by Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

Overview

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Primary Findings

Americans are increasingly going online just for fun and to pass the time. On any given day, 53% of all the young adults ages 18-29 go online for no particular reason except to have fun or to pass the time. Many of them go online in purposeful ways, as well. But the results of a survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project show that young adults’ use of the internet can at times be simply for the diversion it presents. Indeed, 81% of all young adults in this age cohort report they have used the internet for this reason at least occasionally.

 New Report from Pew Internet: The Internet As a Diversion and DestinationThese results come in the larger context that internet users of all ages are much more likely now than in the past to say they go online for no particular reason other than to pass the time or have fun. Some 58% of all adults (or 74% of all online adults) say they use the internet this way. And a third of all adults (34%) say they used the internet that way “yesterday” – or the day before Pew Internet reached them for the survey. Both figures are higher than in 2009 when we last asked this question and vastly higher than in the middle of the last decade.

 New Report from Pew Internet: The Internet As a Diversion and Destination

The upsurge in the number of people who use the internet as a destination for fun and no particular purpose has coincided with a variety of trends: the rise of broadband connections[1], the increasing use of video that is enabled by those high-speed connections[2], and the explosion of social networking.[3] All of those factors are strongly associated with people who use the internet for fun: If they have broadband, if they are online video consumers, if they use social media of any kind – especially social networking sites – they are much more likely than others to go online to pass the time.

The trend also suggests the degree to which the internet has become a competitor to all kinds of other leisure activities that are pursued on other kinds of media. Still, the competition is fuzzy because most other kinds of leisure pursuits that can be digitized – from reading to game playing to “watching TV” and “listening to radio” – are now available online.

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.