Facts About Today’s Internet Users

Facts About Today’s Internet Users

By: Shelly Kramer
July 23, 2011

Facts About Internet Usage, Pew's 2011 Survey

According to the latest Pew survey, today’s Internet users are not only a savvy bunch, they’re not just kids.

Seriously, that’s the biggest stereotype we run up against on a daily basis, so when we get a chance to share stats like this, it’s one of our very favorite things.

No surprise — times, they are a’changing. According to Pew’s research, Millennial surfers (ages 18-33) are more likely to surf the web using mobile devices and engage in activities like social networking, gaming, listening to music, instant messaging incessantly and reading blogs.

And, as people get older, they logically trend toward a dose of information and activities that make their lives easier, in addition to the entertainment element of the Web. Pew’s research supports this by reporting that Gen-X users (ages 35-45) (read that “not kids”) are more likely than their younger counterparts to seek out news and information, search government sites and get their financial information (and, in my case, do online banking and pay my mortgage) online.

Some Major Changes In Web Habits

  • Searching the Internet for health information is now the third most popular online activity for all Internet users, ages 18 and up.
  • Growth of Internet usage among those 74 and over has quadrupled since 2008 (my 73 year-old mother-in-law is proof of this – she’s online daily!)
  • Consumption of online video is up to 66%, an increase from 52% in 2008 (and this will, undoubtedly, continue to rise).

The Web – For Every One, Every Day

Most importantly, the Internet and using the Web as a part of everyday life isn’t just for one age group – it spans many. Pew’s research indicates there are an increasingly growing number of everyday Internet activities that are common among all age groups. These things include things like:

  • Email
  • Search Engine Use
  • Searching for Health Information
  • Getting News
  • Buying Products
  • Rating Products, Services or People
  • Doing Online Banking
  • Making Travel Reservations or Purchases

There’s much more info in the Pew study, so be sure and check it out. And, if you’re a visual geek like me, here’s a handy dandy chart:

2011 Stats from Pew on Internet Usage

Bottom line – our society is using the Internet to find and consume a wide variety of information. We use it to communicate – via email, social networking, podcasting, etc. We use the Web to get things done (pay bills, schedule appointments, get directions, book travel). And we use the Web for a majority of the information we need – whether it’s about products, services, destinations or health information.

So as you consider whatever it is that you do for a living, whether you work for someone else or have your own business, make sure your marketing strategies take into consideration the Web – and what people want, need and do online. And if you’re really smart, you’ll put mobile strategies at the top of your to-do list. But that, my friends, is another post.

  • I hate to do this, but it kind of threw me for a moment until I checked the table; you wrote, “Pew’s research supports this by reporting that Gen-Y users (ages 35-45)…” 

    It was Gen X. 

    Beyond that, it is great information. Though, I’m not surprised. While it took older generations longer to adapt and adopt the new technology, it was inevitable. The landscape of society today has made technology impossible to ignore or to avoid. It must be incorporated into everyone’s life. 

  • I guess everyone needs to run out and create a mobile app for health information 🙂  Seriously, though, as an in-betweener (between Gen X and younger boomer), if I’m in an area/situation where there’s no internet service, I start to get the heeby-jeebies.  What this chart does is give everyone a reality check on who the audiences are—for example, don’t discount the Boomers online.

  • Anonymous

    I get those same heebie jeebies, Rosemary. And yes, you are correct. When even my 73 year MIL is online daily, for a variety of different reasons, that says a lot. Oh, and I’m “officially’ a boomer … and I live online :))

    Thanks, as always, for coming by!

  • Anonymous

    I appreciate the correction, Shad :))

    And you’re right – technology is impossible to ignore or avoid. If you’re smart, that is. I’m continually amazed by how many people DO ignore and avoid it, though.

  • Really good stuff, @ShellyKramer:disqus . That infographic is awesome. Definitely seems like we are seeing the Web just become part of how we live our lives at all ages, kind of like cell phones a few years back. And you are exactly right about mobile. Unlimited data plans and the fact that it is seamless to get on the Internet via a smartphone are key indicators, especially when you add in that 50 percent of the U.S. will have a smartphone by end of 2011. In other words, better get that mobile website up and running :). Cheers!

  • Dean

    Very well done post! To dovetail on your comment to Shad, I am even more surprised at the number of mainstream retailers that are virtually ignoring social media.

    What is your take on the idea that real-time search may be waning and not the next greatest push in search technology?