Wired for Fun: Majority Browse Internet to Fill Time
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
December 05 2011 01:49 PM ET
Americans of all ages are increasingly turning to the Internet to pass the time. While most young adults go online for no particular reason, the majority of people old enough to be their parents and grandparents turn to the Internet to fill their time, too.
The results from a Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project survey revealed that 81 percent of adults ages 18-29 go online for fun, 66 percent of adults 30-49 do it, and half the people 50-64 fill their time online. These groups nearly doubled in size over the past 11 years. Only 23 percent of adults 65 and older use the Internet as a diversion, but that number represents a four-fold increase over results reported a decade ago.
Overall, 58 of adults (or 74 percent of all online adults) said they use the Internet this way. And a third of all adults (34 percent) said they used the Internet that way “yesterday.”
Pew researchers said that 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 and the explosion of social networking. Where there’s a broadband connection, there’s a video consumer . And if they use social media, 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 other leisure activities that are pursued on other kinds of media, researchers said. However, competition is “fuzzy” because most leisure activities such as reading or playing games can be digitized. Pew’s question wording was simple and did not ask about any particular online “fun” activity. People may be passing the time with the same activities, but choosing to use an Internet-connected device in place of a TV, book or radio.
The most recent figures about those going online for fun come from a survey conducted from July 25 to Aug. 26, 2011, among 2,260 adults ages 18 and over, including surveys in English and Spanish and on landline and cellphones.