According to some new research, heavy Internet users are really not like the rest of us:
Heavy users (those who spent more than an hour on the Internet during the day) devoted less time to socializing with their spouse or partner, as well as their children and friends. And they tended to stay at home, showing less interest in outdoor activities than non-users.
They also devoted significantly less time than non-users to paid work and chores around the home, as well as less time sleeping, relaxing, resting or thinking.
What is striking is the amount of time they spent alone. Moderate Internet users (those using the Internet for five minutes to one hour during the diary day) spent about 26 more minutes by themselves than non-users during the diary day. But heavy Internet users were alone nearly two hours (119 minutes) longer than non-users, even when comparing people from similar-sized households.
They may be an attractive market for some online services, but I dont think I like these people.
[Update] A few people pointing out in comments to this post that there is a possible methodological issue here. After all, many of us, myself included, are “on” the Internet 12 hours a day, if you count being in an office with a Net connection plus being connected via an EVDO-enabled Treo 700, or equivalent. I think the difference is the kind of use, whether the use is passive or active, and so on.
Of course, some of this is simple math. The more time you spend on Activity A, the less time you have available for Activities B, C, and D. But there is a deeper issue, in that you can choose to take time evenly from all activities to offset your Net activities, or you can take in disproportionately from Activity B, or C, or D.
That, I think is the point, in large part, of this study. People who are “heavy” (an unfortunate choice of words) Internet users borrow that time disproportionately from social activities, outdoor recreation, and so on.