Internet Activities by Time Spent

At present, about two-thirds of the people in the United States are Internet users.  These people spend about just over one hour per day on the average using the Internet.  However, as with any media activity, the time spent actually varies greatly among people.  In the following chart, we show some data from 2004 MARS study conducted during the first quarter of 2004.  Within this study, there were 13,146 adults who had used the Internet during the past 30 days.  Their average daily time spent is shown in the following pie chart.  A small group of 4% of the adults spent 7 hours or more per day, and another group of 18% spend 3 to 6 hours per day.

(Source: 2004 MARS study)

The question that we want to ask is just what do these different groups of people spend their time doing.  For example, how much time do they spend on playing games? reading news?  checking stock price? and so on.  As it turns out, this is not an easy question to ask.  If you ask someone about the total amount of time that they spend on the Internet per day on the average, it is possible to give a reasonably accurate estimate.  But it is well near impossible for that person to divide the time into mutually exclusive categories (e.g. out of the 2 hours that I spend per day, 8 minutes are for shopping, 13 minutes for email, 10 minutes for music, etc).  It is only possible to ask these people about the types of activities that they have engaged in without the amount of time.

In the following chart, we show the types of Internet activities classified by the average daily time spent.  First of all, we see that about 85% of everyone uses e-mail, which is the most popular activity now.  The least popular activity on this list is looking for real estate information, which is done by ony 10% of the people.  Our real interest is in the differences among the incidences for various time-spent groups.  It is not always true that people who spend more time on the Internet do more of everything.  Thus, the people who spend the most time on the Internet (7 or more hours per day) do not top the stock quote usage.  In which activities do the heavy Internet users lead?  Playing games, downloading music, chat/instant messaging ... these are precisely the most time-consuming activities.  If the Internet were solely about sending e-mails, then the average amount of time spent may have been trivial.  Instead, there is the continuously interactive instant messaging system, which stretches into hours and hours.

(Source: 2004 MARS study)

(posted by Roland Soong, 8/13/2004)

(Return to Zona Latina's Home Page)