Internet As Cure For Boredom: Survey Finds More Than Half Go Online For Fun & To Kill Time

pew-logoIf you still think people are task-oriented when they’re spending time on the Internet, you’re behind the times. Increasingly, adults, especially young adults, report that they get online for no reason at all, instead looking for entertainment and diversion, according to the latest report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.

Internet Surfers Just Wanna Have Fun

Pew reported that 58% of all adults (or 74% of online adults) it surveyed reported using the Internet this way in general:

When the organization first asked this question in 2000, only 29% of adults (63% of online adults) said they did this.

The trend is even more pronounced in young adults aged 18 to 34. In 2000, only 47 percent of Internet users in this age group went online “just for fun.” In the most recent survey, that number had climbed 34 points to 81 percent.

Here’s a breakdown of usage by age, sex and gender:

The results come from a survey conducted from July 5 to August 26 of this year, among 2,260 adults age 18 and over. Surveys were conducted in English and Spanish and on landline and mobile phones. The margin of error for the sample is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Yesterday, The Internet Was Such An Easy Way To Play

How often does this type of behavior happen? A second question asked if people killed time “yesterday” to get a sense of how common this is:

pew-chart

The percentages are lower — only 34% of all adults said they killed time on the Internet “yesterday” rather than 58% in general. But the percentage answering this way has been steadily growing.

Marketers: Appeal To The Bored!

The dramatic change is attributed to the rise of broadband access, which has made getting online a much more casual task. Additionally, the broadband access has enabled people to consumer more video content, and the growth of social networks has also been a factor.

Pew noted that the growth in the Internet as a “fun” destination may make it a stronger competitor to TV or other leisure activities. It could also make it a stronger competitor for marketing dollars.

For marketers, the lesson might be that the way to forge relationships with young people online is to provide them with entertaining and diverting experiences such as viral videos, games and the like.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Features & Analysis | Statistics: Online Behavior

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About The Author: is executive features editor of Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. She’s a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported on, written about and worked in digital media and marketing for more than 10 years. She is a previous managing editor of ClickZ and has worked on the other side of digital publishing, helping independent publishers monetize their sites in her work at Federated Media Publishing.

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  • Arsen Rabinovich

    Where are the bathroom stats? I have a good feeling that there are big numbers that go online to pass time while they are passing……

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