Studies

by Zachary Knight


Filed Under:
being online, studies



Being Online Has Become So Common That Some People No Longer Identify It As Being Online

from the to-be-online-or-not-to-be-online dept

One thing we know for sure is that the internet has become a growing part of everyone's lives. People are connecting to the internet for a variety of everyday activities including watching tv and movies, listening to music, reading news and gaming. With the internet becoming so ubiquitous in people's lives, would it be a surprise to see that the number of people who identify such activities as "being online" is dropping?

That is exactly what Forrester Research has shown in its latest study on people's media habits. In a blog post, Forrester Analyst Gina Sverdlov points out that especially among younger internet using adults, being online is a fluid concept.
One of the biggest revelations in this year’s data was the change in attitude of consumers — particularly younger ones — toward the Internet. Since we started tracking this information in 1997, we have only seen the amount of time spent online increasing. But Forrester’s 2012 data shows that US online adults are now reporting a decline in the amount of time they spend using the Internet compared with 2011 and 2010.

What’s going on? Our analysis revealed that “being online” is becoming a fluid concept. Consumers no longer consider some of the online activities they perform to be activities related to “using the Internet.” In fact, given the various types of connected devices that US consumers own, many people are connected and logged on (automatically) at all times. The Internet has become such a normal part of their lives that consumers don’t register that they are using the Internet when they’re on Facebook, for example. It’s only when they are actively doing a specific task, like search, that they consider this to be time that they’re spending online.
You can see this trend in this graphic, along with falling trends in offline activities such as watching TV and reading newspapers among adults.
As you can see, there is a drop in the amount of time people spend using the internet. However, as Forrester points out, that doesn't actually reflect people's true online activity. People are using more services and devices that are connected by default to the internet which doesn't resonate as online activity for many people. When people use smart phone applications, for instance, those applications may connect to the internet, but it is not a conscious "I am connecting to the internet" activity. It is just "I am checking Facebook/listening to Pandora/Watching Netflix/etc." With online connectivity as the default for the media choices people make, it would be expected that people would be less likely to consider that "online" behavior. As the rising generation grows up with such online-by-default choices, they will be even more likely to not consider it online activity.

What this means for those media companies that are showing a steady decline in the above graphic, and others not listed, is that if your services do not take advantage of the connected devices the current and rising generation own and use, then you might find yourself out of business. We see this happening now. Despite what some legacy industries might believe or want, that decline in offline activity is not going to reverse itself. The more the legacy industries fight that shift in consumer behavior, the faster they will find themselves irrelevant. The best thing for these industries to do is to embrace that fluid online concept and capture the attention of the rising generation.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2012 @ 5:27am

    Re: Re:

    I think their biggest fear is that they will be rendered redundant, which is beginning to happen to the music labels, and could happen to the movie/tv industry. A vibrant and varied culture exists best when there is no choke point of of gatekeeper/publishers selecting what the public can see. If the legacy industries cannot stop the use of the Internet for content distribution then in the long run they are doomed as more and more content is published outside their control.
    Interestingly the book publishers probably have a future in providing print copies of popular freely distributed works. Many people still prefer a real book for entertainment reading. Their editing role will be replaced by peer review on the network.

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