By Ed Oswald | Wednesday, December 23, 2009 at 1:00 pm
Data from Harris Interactive seems to indicate that weekly Internet usage may be peaking, indicating that the dire predictions of the death of interpersonal communication as predicted by some communications scholars (mine in college included!) and your Mom and Dad may be a little premature. Since 1999, when Harris first began tracking weekly Internet usage, the number has been for the most part steadily increasing from 7 hours to a peak of 14 hours last year.
The biggest jump was from 2007 to last, and this likely had a lot to do with the explosion in growth in social networking sites. Twitter and Facebook, both very time-consuming if you get heavily involved in the status update side of things, both saw dramatic growth in this period. Additionally, a very competitive presidential election probably contributed to added time online as well, Harris speculates.
No surprise that the most active age group online is those 30-39 years old, spending 18 hours a week online on average. Again no surprise that those 65+ are spending far less time connected at 8 hours. Either way you slice it, if you have a computer you’re likely online: Harris reports a 98 percent of computer users have an online connection, or about 184 million adults.
Will these numbers still go up? It’s likely they will as more services move to the Internet (video, etc.) But it does look like the rapid growth in Internet use is slowing considerably, both in the numbers logging on and time spent. There’s probably several ways one could interpret Harris’ findings.
Yes folks, it’s good to log off sometimes: I know that because I sit here in front of a computer 30+ hours a week blogging and writing. After awhile you just need to disconnect. Then again, I find myself on my iPhone if I’m not on the computer, so maybe I’m never truly disconnected…
(Image from “Wall-E,” copyright Pixar, Inc.)