E-Mail Continues Dominance of Net Apps

A survey of Internet users by The Gallup Organization found that email remains the No. 1 activity for people online, with more than half saying saying it is their most common online activity.

The typical email user is on the Internet seven to eight hours each week, the poll found, and 37 percent of the respondents indicate they go online more than 10 hours per week. Sending and reading email is the most common activity for people when online, much more common than searching for information, paying bills or using Instant Messages. Nine in 10 email users said they use email at home, and more than 80 percent use it at work. And while a majority of email users said they use the telephone and U.S. mail less often because of email, most are not willing to sacrifice those methods of communication just yet.

Among women, 61 percent said that sending and receiving email messages is the activity they take part in most often when online. Only 44 percent of men could say the same. Searching the Internet for information on topics of interest to them is nearly as common as email for men (39 percent). Only 23 percent of women said searching for information is their most frequent online activity.

As might be expected, email use differs between home and work. Those who use it at work check it much more often, and send and receive many more emails. A majority, 51 percent, of those who use email at work check it at least once an hour, including 32 percent who said they check it “continuously.” An additional 33 percent said they check email at work a couple times a day, and 11 percent check it about once a day. Only 5 percent check it less than once a day. At home, only 6 percent said they check email at least once an hour, including 3 percent who check it continuously. Most people check their email at home either a couple times a day (30 percent) or about once a day (41 percent). But 22 percent check it less often than that.

The typical email user receives 12 emails at work each day, and 28 percent receive 20 or more emails at work each day. Sending email is less common, as the typical user sends just six emails at work each day, and just 16 percent send 20 or more messages per day. At home, a typical email user will receive just eight messages each day and send only three. Only 11 percent said they receive more than 20 email messages each day at home, and only 1 percent send that many from home.

A majority of email users said they now use the telephone and U.S. mail less often, and about one in five indicate they use the telephone and U.S. mail “a great deal less.” Just one in three email users said that email has not decreased their use of the telephone or the U.S. mail.

Most email users said that up to three out of every 10 email messages they receive are spam, and 39 percent said they receive more than that, including 18 percent who said that at least half their email is spam. When asked their opinion on spam, 42 percent of email users said they “hate it,” 45 percent said they find it “an annoyance, but do not hate it,” while the rest have no strong feelings either way (9 percent), or sometimes find the information contained in spam useful (4 percent). Younger email users, those between the ages of 18 and 29, are much more likely to say they hate spam (67 percent) than are those between the ages of 30 and 49 (43 percent) and those 50 and older (26 percent). Men are a little more likely than women to say they hate spam, 45 percent to 38 percent.

The Gallup poll was conducted via the Internet June 14 to 25, 2001 and the results are based on online interviews with 391 national adults with email addresses, aged 18+, originally contacted in a telephone survey, who agreed to be re-contacted for a future survey by email.

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