Internet as a diversion (Dec 2011 Pew Internet Research)

7 Dec 2011 - 12:06pm
2 years ago
7 replies
1389 reads
sdowney
2008

What do you make of the latest Pew Internet study (http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Internet-as-diversion.aspx) that reports an increase in the percentage of Internet users going online "..for no particular reason except to have fun or to pass time."

This finding challenges a long-held assumption (of mine, at least) that as the Internet matured, it would be used more to complete specific tasks.  Pew doesn't say this, but an implication may be that we're returning to the days of "surfing the web".  I thought those days were over.

The Pew research didn't ask respondants their definition of "fun" or "to pass time", so we really can't make sweeping conclusions; nonetheless I'm surprised by this report. How do others interpret it?  

Comments

7 Dec 2011 - 1:05pm
a2slbailey
2010

I wonder if it's less a matter of "surfing the web" than participating in social media/networking sites? I feel like I tend to turn to Facebook or Hulu now for the kind of indolent time wasting I used to do "channel surfing" when I had cable.
sb

On Wed, Dec 7, 2011 at 12:26 PM, sdowney <sdowney2002@comcast.net> wrote:

What do you make of the latest Pew Internet study (http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Internet-as-diversion.aspx [1]) that reports an increase in the percentage of Internet users going online "/..for no particular reason except to have fun or to pass time./"

This finding challenges a long-held assumption (of mine, at least) that as the Internet matured, it would be used more to /complete specific tasks/.  Pew doesn't say this, but an implication may be that we're returning to the days of "surfing the web".  I thought those days were over.

The Pew research didn't ask respondants their definition of "fun" or "to pass time", so we really can't make sweeping conclusions; nonetheless I'm surprised by this report. How do others interpret it?  

(((
7 Dec 2011 - 3:05pm
David
2005

I had the same interpretation that time spent on the internet is replacing time spent watching TV. Another thought is that the growth in mobile devices is creating opportunities to access the internet to pass time as we sit in waiting rooms, airports, etc.

David

-----Original Message----- From: ixdaor@host.ixda.org [mailto:ixdaor@host.ixda.org] On Behalf Of a2slbailey Sent: Wednesday, December 07, 2011 1:43 PM To: Jaeger, David Subject: Re: [IxDA] Internet as a diversion (Dec 2011 Pew Internet Research)

I wonder if it's less a matter of "surfing the web" than participating in social media/networking sites? I feel like I tend to turn to Facebook or Hulu now for the kind of indolent time wasting I used to do "channel surfing" when I had cable. sb

On Wed, Dec 7, 2011 at 12:26 PM, sdowney wrote:

>What do you make of the latest Pew Internet study >(http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Internet-as-diversion.aspx [2] >[1]) that reports an increase in the percentage of Internet users going >online "/..for no particular reason except to have fun or to pass time./" > >This finding challenges a long-held assumption (of mine, at least) that >as the Internet matured, it would be used more to /complete specific tasks/. > Pew doesn't say this, but an implication may be that we're returning >to the days of "surfing the web".  I thought those days were over. > >The Pew research didn't ask respondants their definition of "fun" or >"to pass time", so we really can't make sweeping conclusions; >nonetheless I'm surprised by this report. How do others interpret it? > >((( > ((

8 Dec 2011 - 7:05am
martinsz
2011

When people are bombarded with uninteresting, everyday news and commercial offerings in the screen, they tend to lose focus and follow a stream of uninterestingness.I think IxD can help in this regard. Specially someone coming from the psychology side of things, might be able to explain how the mind goes in to this different states, discover the triggers and turn in into a design recommendation that enables content to be more relevant and to generate action in the user's life.

I'm not against wasting time per se, I'm just asking if we know how can we get people to waste less time, because all time people employ doing things for themselves and for others, that's where value is really created, when we work for a goal and it's important that we are able to transmit that sensation when it's appropriate.

Martín.

7 Dec 2011 - 2:05pm
Eva Miller
2009

There's a recession. People are staying home more and going out less. They are bored. They may be watching videos, Hulu, stuff like that. They are bored and trying to save money :)

Even the national evening news broadcasts are showing higher numbers in viewership lately.

Eva Miller

7 Dec 2011 - 2:05pm
tonyzeoli
2008

I can only speak for myself and say that there are times when I turn to the web for social interaction (Facebook, Google+, and Twitter) or casual surfing (look around at things I didn't know where there and hop/skip between sites). For someone who is constantly on the web, far more than the average person, it's difficult for me to separate "fun" from "work." My work is fun, so if I were to be presented with a question like that, it would be difficult for me to answer it in the way I believe it was intended to be answered.

7 Dec 2011 - 2:05pm
hassan.schroede...
2009

On Wed, Dec 7, 2011 at 9:20 AM, sdowney wrote: > What do you make of the latest Pew Internet study > (http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Internet-as-diversion.aspx [1]) that > reports an increase in the percentage of Internet users going online "/..for > no particular reason except to have fun or to pass time./"

> The Pew research didn't ask respondants their definition of "fun" or "to > pass time", so we really can't make sweeping conclusions; nonetheless I'm > surprised by this report. How do others interpret it?

Back "in the day", most Internet use was from desktop systems and probably the majority of those were in the workplace.

Now people have new access options -- smartphones and tablets -- than can be used anywhere, anytime. Stuck on a slow train? Pull out your iPhone and _________ for a while.

Maybe it's more surprising that any productive work happens online at all :-)

8 Dec 2011 - 10:43am
Jochen Wolters
2010

 

 

What exactly did the Pew Internet study measure? The number of people who -- ever or "on a typical day" -- go online "for fun or to pass the time".

As sdowney already pointed out, the study does not define what activities qualify as being "for fun or to pass the time". Neither did the study analyze how much time people spend on such activities.

For the study, someone who occasionally reads an online comic for a few minutes a day, counts just as much as someone who watches videos on YouTube for hours on end every single day.

More importantly, you cannot derive any conclusions about the "serious" use of the Internet from this study at all, because this is not a zero-sum game.

Someone who has just recently discovered Hulu, may consider that their first use of "internet entertainment", so they answered "yes" to the Pew questions for the first time, thus contributing to the measured increase.

And yet, they may still perform the same amount of serious online research as before. Or more. Or maybe less. It's impossible to tell from the Pew study, simply because it does not provide any insights into this aspect of Internet use.

As a bottom line, in my most humble of opinions, this is one of those studies whose questions are phrased so broadly, that the results are almost meaningless. It does make for great headlines, though: "Users increasingly turn to the Internet to waste their precious time on mindless entertainment!" ;D

In all seriousness, I think this study provides exactly one credible result: "The number of potential customers for online entertainment keeps on growing."

 

 

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