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Users Connect Online with Offline

  |  August 24, 2004   |  Comments

The Internet has become an indispensable resource for many Americans, but some activities are better suited for the offline world.

By integrating online and offline activities, Internet users have been able to extend their reach beyond their previously one-dimensional capabilities. A late 2003 study conducted by Pew Internet & American Life Project found that the majority of Internet users have become reliant on the Internet for a number of tasks, but some activities are better conducted offline.

The report found that the Internet has significantly aided those who look for maps or driving instructions, communicate with friends and family, and check weather reports, but offline components are still valid to these users as well.

Everyday Activities and the Internet
Activity Users Who
Have Done
this Online
Online Only Offline Only Those Who
Do It Offline
and Online
Map or driving directions 87% 56% 14% 31%
Communicate with family/friends 79% 21% 20% 59%
Check weather reports 69% 31% 31% 39%
Get news 45% 63% 17% 38%
Check sports scores 55% 26% 45% 30%
Buy concert/movie tickets 55% 28% 45% 27%
Send greeting cards/invitations 52% 17% 47% 36%
Base: 2,013 in full sample and 1,358 Internet users
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

A large majority (88 percent) of online Americans say the Internet plays a role in their daily routines, and 64 percent of Internet users say their daily routines and activities would be affected if they could no longer use the Internet.

The activities that Internet users primarily engage in offline are playing games, pursuing hobbies, listening to music or the radio, reading for pleasure, and watching videos, previews and cartoons.

While some of these activities are bandwidth-intensive, Deborah Fallows, senior research fellow at Pew Internet Project and the author of the report, says that broadband penetration is not the primary factor in users' preferences for the offline mediums.

"Broadband will make a bit of a difference but there are other things at play. Doing more complex things, like listening to music or movies on the Web, requires more sophistication," said Fallows, referring to user tenure and technological capabilities.

"Listening to music online and watching videos will improve as technology improves but it won't hold a candle to what you can do offline," Fallows explained. "The offline world is too good for some things."

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