Nearly one-third of American Internet users surveyed said they go online just for fun rather than to check email, read news or use a search engine, a sharp increase from a year ago, the Pew Internet & American Life Project said yesterday.
"This tells us the Internet is another place where people increasingly go to while away their time or just to hang out," said Deborah Fallows, senior research fellow at the nonpartisan research group which examines the social impact of the Internet.
"That has potentially big consequences for the way people spend their time," she added.
A survey of 1,931 Internet users conducted by Pew in late November and December 2005 found 30 percent of respondents said they went online "for no particular reason" on the previous day. That was up from 21 percent in a November 2004 survey.
Pew credited the increase on growing availability of broadband access and expanding web content.
The survey also showed that 34 percent of online men were surfing for fun on an average day in December, compared with 26 percent of women.
When it comes to other online pursuits, Pew said that sending or receiving email ranked highest with 52 percent of Internet users saying they did this on a typical day. Using a search engine ranked second with 38 percent, while reading news online was third with 31 percent.
Pew said the margin of error on the survey was plus or minus 2 percentage points. The results were posted here.
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