Study: Americans Consumed 34GB Per Day In 2008

According to a recent report from the University of California, San Diego, American households consumed 3.6 zettabytes of information in 2008. A zettabyte is 10 to the 21st power bytes, or a million million gigabytes. Put another way, Americans consumed approximately 34GB per individual per day in 2008. The report also suggests that the average American consumes 100,500 words in a single day.

The information we consume comes from everywhere around us—through television, radio, billboards, the Web, text messages, video games, etc. The study suggests that most Americans spend half of their day, or an average of nearly 12 hours, consuming information. Four and a half of those hours are generally spent watching TV-related content. On top of TV-related content, most Americans spend nearly two hours a day consuming information from a computer. Beyond the TV and computer, data consumption happens via the phone, radio, music, and print mediums. Not all of these experiences are independent of one another, either; many of them happen simultaneously, such as talking on the phone while checking email or instant messaging and watching TV.

The report also found a connection between the number of bytes we consume and the amount of time spent with video games. According to Roger Bohn, professor of technology management and co-author of the study, “Gaming saw the biggest leap in the number of bytes we consume and the amount of time devoted to this platform.” In this scenario, gaming includes not only first-person shooter games but also analytical games such as Tetris or social networking games.

While print media has seen a definite decline, the amount of content people are reading has not been reduced. In fact, the study found if you add up the amount of time people spend surfing the Web, Americans are actually reading more than ever.

On average, the number of bytes we consume has increased 5.4% per year from 1980 to 2008. If we keep progressing at this rate, it won't be long before we're talking in yottabytes instead of zettabytes.