Email and information gathering currently dominate most people’s online time, but new research suggests online habits are set for dramatic change in coming years.
A Gartner survey of 4770 internet users across the world found web users spend most of their online time on email, followed by information gathering; internet banking; sharing photos and videos (in effect, social networking); maps and transport information; and online shopping.
But when you look at the online habits of 13 to 18 year olds, a different picture emerges. Perhaps unsurprisingly, teens are much less keen on functional things like email, research and internet banking. Instead, the teen list is dominated by entertainment functions – downloading, online video games, blogging and social networking.
Gartner research director Elroy Jopling says rather than simply seeing this trend as a product of their youth, the divergent teen online habits should be seen as a sign of things to come.
“The internet has become a utility for most consumers, who use it for communicating, gathering information and performing financial transactions,” Jopling says. “However, a new ‘trickle down’ phenomenon, where teenagers lead the evolution of consumer internet applications, heralds a new era where internet applications will mimic life — communicating, entertaining, socialising, informing, transactional, either in a fixed location or on the move.”