We swear that’s not an Onion headline. According to a new report from the Pew
Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, 53% of young adults aged 18-29 go online “for no particular reason except to have fun or to pass the time” on a typical day. (Note that the survey question specifically asked if users had done so “yesterday”.)
It’s not just the Millenials that are whiling the hours online, though; 34% of all adults use the Internet to do nothing in particular, too.
Additionally, 81% of young adults and 58% of all adults use the Internet this way “occasionally”. True, the survey also found that there’s plenty of purposeful Internet use among that age group, but the above facts remain.
Although those numbers may be cringe-inducing at first glance, it really just makes sense. There’s a lot to do via the Internet that was impossible just a few years ago and not available to many users until fairly recently. The Pew survey noted that the rise in this type of online activity is largely attributable to the availability of broadband, and it follows, broadband-enabled activities such as online video-watching. There’s also this new craze called social networking that we hear young people are into.
A key aspect of the definition of what “fun” is is important to this survey; respondents had no parameters on the definition of “fun”, so they could define the term however they wished. If anything, then, these numbers beg the question: Have 42% of online adults (and 19% of online young adults) not discovered Netflix? Or Facebook? Or Steam? Or fantasy football? Or Pandora? Or the Cheezburger network?
Perhaps the headline should instead be “Many Adults Still Just Don’t Get the Internet”.