Teen online habits show the future of the web

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.”



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