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What Are People Doing Online?

Keller Hawthorne | April 16, 2009 | Comment
Understanding the Online Market

First Things First: Why Do We Even Use the Internet?

WWW and MouseLet’s face it; the days of the local general store are gone. Most of us would rather not stand in line or deal with clerks anymore. Traffic is a pain in the neck, good parking spots seem harder to find each day and that person welcoming us at Whatchamacallit-Mart really doesn’t care how we are. Shopping offline has become a chore. But wait – now we have the Internet!

Ah, finally I can take my shoes off, put my pj’s on and do some real shopping! Maybe I’ll talk with my new friend from China. Or, I’ll learn how to cook a new lasagna recipe. No wait, I definitely need to check my email first.” Sound familiar?

That is why we use the Internet! We can do twenty things at once while lying in bed. We can communicate with people across the world, upload and share pictures from our recent vacation, and learn anything and everything we can think of, all online! It saves us time, money and hassles. And best of all, we can shop from the comfort of our own homes (well, best of all for us shopaholics)!

Internet Activities Sure Have Come a Long Way

The Internet looked a lot different in the early 90’s. When the personal computer (PC) market started growing and people began using the Internet in their homes, there wasn’t nearly as much to do as there is today. Websites were not very attractive, most companies did not advertise online (or even consider it) and online communities like MySpace didn’t exist. didn’t open their virtual doors until 1994 and their first design actually deterred customers from purchasing.

Since then, the Internet has become a staple in most of our lives. We have email accounts with which we communicate, we have Facebook accounts to claim our 15 minutes of fame, and we shop on eBay or have virtual garage sales on Craig’s List. Many of us use the Internet to review products or companies before opening our wallets. We stay connected with long lost friends or relatives through instant messaging and blog about our dreams and aspirations. We use it to buy anything and everything from groceries to virtual land in Second Life. The days of CD’s and DVD’s are ending with the ever-increasing popularity of iTunes and other digital media stores. New pass times such as games, online gambling and Hulu have actually even turned our attention away from the television!

So, What Are the Most Popular Online Activities?

What are people doing online? As stated above, EVERYTHING! But, what’s the most popular activity? I’ve added a spreadsheet below with information obtained from Pew Internet & American Life Project, a non-profit research company, that shows the percentage of Internet users who participate in certain activities on any given day. I accessed this information on March 21, 2009. You can view the original data on their website at:

Daily Internet Activities (opens in new window)

This really helps to sum up the main purpose of the Internet. We use it to find INFORMATION. We use it for CONVENIENCE. We use it to PURCHASE GOODS AND SERVICES. And most of all, we use it to COMMUNICATE.

How You Fit Into These Activities

We need your help! We need you to review products and tell us whether or not to purchase from a particular company. We need you to help design our blogs or MySpace pages. We want to learn a new language or understand how email works and we want you to teach us. The Internet allows each of us to share with one another. So, give the people what they want! If you have a special skill, or talent, or just a video of a cat chasing its tail, there is someone online who wants to hear from you.

So, what’s your main Internet activity? Mine is definitely checking my email (about a million times a day and that’s probably an understatement).

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