January 25, 2022

New Internet Usage Statistics (U.S.): "Search and Email Remain Most Popular Online Activities"

Quick Intro

It’s worth mentioning that with the many new “social ways”of communicating and finding info, e-mail and search continue to maintain a sizable lead vs. other services. It’s not that social media hasn’t exploded (although it seems to be leveling off a bit according the graph below) but we think it’s important to remember that e-mail and search remain have the lead they do and remain close to universal.

From a Summary of a New Pew Internet & American Life Project Report by Kristen Purcell:

May 2011 Pew Internet Project surveys finds that search and email remain the two online activities that are nearly universal among adult internet users, as 92% of online adults use search engines to find information on the Web, and the same number (92%) use email.

Since the Pew Internet Project began measuring adults’ online activities in the last decade, these two behaviors have consistently ranked as the most popular, even as new platforms, broadband and mobile devices continue to reshape the way Americans use the internet and web. As early as 2002, more than eight in ten online adults were using search engines, and more than nine in ten online adults were emailing.

[Our emphasis] Perhaps the most significant change over the past decade is that both activities have become more habitual. Today, roughly six in ten online adults engage in each of these activities on a typical day; in 2002, 49% of online adults used email each day, while just 29% used a search engine daily.

The youngest adult internet users, the more educated, and those with higher incomes are more likely to use both search and email when compared with other adults.  In the case of the latter, overall email use is comparable across white, African-American and Hispanic online adults, yet email use on any given day is not.  White online adults are significantly more likely than both African-American and Hispanic online adults to be email users on a typical day (63% v. 48% v. 53%, respectively).

Direct to the Complete Report (a PDF Version of the Report is Also Available)

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.