Search & Send: It's What We Do

In case you were wondering just what exactly adult Americans spend their time doing online, you can rest easy now. Just as in 2002, we almost universally spend some of our time online sending emails and searching for stuff. Pew Internet Research conducted its annual survey on Internet usage and has just issued its report based on its findings. The results were culled from data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 26 to May 22, 2011, across a sample of 2,277 adults, age 18 and older. The numbers have remained fairly consistent with respect to these activities over the years: this most recent survey shows that 92% of online adults use search engines to find information on the Web, with 59% doing so on a typical day, and 92% use email, with 61% using it on a typical day. The overall number of users of both email and search engines has also grown: in January 2002, 52% of all Americans used search engines and in May, 2011 72% of all Americans used search engines. In January 2002, 55% of all Americans used email and in May, 2011, 70% of all Americans used email. And these numbers are fairly uniform across the generations. The report further breaks down results by gender, race, education, and household income. Three other uses were measured, with getting news and buying products holding steady over the 2002 to 2011 time frame. Using social networking sites didn’t register in 2002, but from 2004 to 2011, usage jumped dramatically from 11% to 65%.

Interesting results, no doubt. It is interesting to me that social sites have not put a bigger dent in both email and search as means for communicating and finding relevant information. I anticipate that social net use will eventually have that effect as communication tools and relevance-based news tools within the sites improve. Guess we will have to wait and see.

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