Monday, October 28, 2013

More about Computer Use for Leisure

Inspired by Scott Wallsten's excellent NBER study of how many hours per day people participate in the time use category "computer use for leisure," I took a look at the 2012 numbers from the American Time Use Survey. He's right: millions of Americans spend much of their leisure time online.

Keep in mind that the "computer use for leisure" category does not include gaming, emailing, watching television or videos, reading for personal interest, or work—all of which are coded separately. In fact, the "computer use for leisure" category is a remainder and most of it is social networking, web surfing, and search, according to Wallsten's analysis.

On an average day in 2012, fully 13 percent of people aged 15 or older spent leisure time online. By age, the figure ranges from a low of 9 percent (people aged 65-plus) to a high of 21 percent (15-to-19-year-olds). As Wallsten points out, those who go online spend a considerable amount of their leisure time on the computer. Here are the numbers for 2012...

Hours (and percent) of leisure time spent online by participants
Total, 15-plus: 1.61 (32%)
Aged 15 to 19: 1.39 (29%)
Aged 20 to 24: 2.29 (45%)
Aged 25 to 34: 1.38 (33%)
Aged 35 to 44: 1.34 (33%)
Aged 45 to 54: 1.56 (34%)
Aged 55 to 64: 1.65 (31%)
Aged 65-plus: 1.85 (27%)

Remember these figures do not include gaming. On an average day in 2012, a substantial 21 percent of 15-to-19-year-olds played games (a separate time use category that includes online gaming as well as  board and card games). Those in the age group who played games devoted an astonishing 2.66 hours to gaming (55 percent of their leisure time!).

See my earlier post about Wallsten's study here, in which he determines the activities most likely to lose out because of all the time we spend online.

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