Harris: Number of U.S. Adults Online Unchanged Since 2006

CYBERSPACE—A new Harris interactive survey reveals some striking changes in the ways in which adults in the United States access and use the internet, and also some usage that hasn’t changed.

The results, which were culled from 2,029 adults surveyed by telephone between July 7 and 12 and Oct. 13 and 18, found that adult internet users are now spending an average of 13 hours a week online. “Of course, people's usage varies greatly; one in five (20 percent) of adult internet users are online for only two hours or less a week while one in seven (14 percent) are spending 24 or more hours a week online,” said a Harris press release issued Wednesday.

The survey also found that over the years the average hours spent online have increased from seven hours in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002, to between eight and nine hours in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.  In 2007, it increased to 11 hours. Last year, after the financial crisis broke and before the presidential election, internet users were online for 14 hours a week, double what it was from 1999 to 2002.

Other findings in this Harris Poll include:

The age groups that spend the most time online are those aged 30-39 (18 hours) and those aged 25-29 (17 hours) and 40-49 (17 hours).

Half (50 percent) of all those online bought something on the Internet in the last month. This includes 62 percent of those aged 30-39 and 56 percent of those aged 40-49.

The number of adults online, now 184 million (80 percent), has not changed significantly since 2008 and 2007.  This includes those online at work, at home, at school or any other locations.

However, the number of adults who are online at home has increased to 76 percent this year, and 75 percent last year, compared to 70 percent in 2006, and 66 percent in 2005.

“The increase in the number of hours spent online in the last two years compared to all previous years is striking,” says Harris, in conclusion. “It probably reflects a growing ability to use the Internet, an increase in sites and applications, increased TV watching online and increased purchasing online. Also, hours online may have increased because of the recession. Going online is free; going out usually costs money.”

While the results of the current Harris survey are interesting, it notably does not include the number of people accessing the internet from their mobile devices. Taking those people into account might have changed the results significantly.

More information about the survey can be found here.