Internet Use Said to Cut Into TV Viewing and Socializing

Internet Use Said to Cut Into TV Viewing and Socializing (NYT)

The average Internet user in the United States spends three hours a day online, with much of that time devoted to work and more than half of it to communications, according to a survey conducted by a group of political scientists.

The survey found that use of the Internet has displaced television watching and a range of other activities. Internet users watch television for one hour and 42 minutes a day, compared with the national average of two hours, said Norman H. Nie, director of the Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society, a research group that has been exploring the social consequences of the Internet. “People don’t understand that time is hydraulic,” he said, meaning that time spent on the Internet is time taken away from other activities.

Who are the idiots who don’t understand this? One would think the average toddler would grasp this rather obvious concept. And why exactly is it a bad thing that people are online rather than watching television?

Graphic: An hour of time spent using the Internet reduces face-to-face contact with friends, co-workers and family by 23.5 minutes, lowers the amount of time spent watching television by 10 minutes and shortens sleep by 8.5 minutes. A 2000 study by the researchers that reported increasing physical isolation among Internet users created a controversy and drew angry complaints from some users who insisted that time they spent online did not detract from their social relationships.

However, the researchers said they had now gathered further evidence showing that in addition to its impact on television viewing, Internet use has lowered the amount of time people spend socializing with friends and even sleeping.

According to the study, an hour of time spent using the Internet reduces face-to-face contact with friends, co-workers and family by 23.5 minutes, lowers the amount of time spent watching television by 10 minutes and shortens sleep by 8.5 minutes.

Obviously, this is more problematic.

FILED UNDER: Science & Technology
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. David Harris says:

    Judging from the source, I’d say it’s pretty clear why they see spending time on the Internet instead of in front of the television to be a bad thing. It’s all you big, bad bloggers.

  2. Kate says:

    I should add that for those of us who live in isolated rural areas, or who work alone, the internet increases time spent on “socializing” albeit, electronically.

  3. Kappiy says:

    Anything that cuts into TV watching should be applauded!

  4. Myopist says:

    “And why exactly is it a bad thing that people are online rather than watching television?”

    There are much more people online who mock the New York Times?

    More seriously, I think that declining ad revenues have something to do with it: I pretty much don’t watch TV anymore, and when I do I’m always amazed how many commercials there are.

  5. Kenny says:

    Ummm … Dr. Joyner perhaps you can explain this to me. Time is hydraulic right? How come an hour on the internet means I lose only 42 minutes total sleeping, with friends and family and the family friend, TV. Could you answer, in Dr. Nie’s place: Where does that other 18 minutes of the hour go?

    Maybe this is that multitasking thing all the Microsoft Windows kids are talking about?

    And does this observation exclude me from the upcoming grad-level quantitative class?

  6. jpe says:

    I’m sure have had similar experiences, but it never fails to astonish me that my friends will find it disturbing that I spend so much time on the internet, yet they spend as much time (being generous to them) watching TV. Somehow, the irony is lost on them.

  7. Akatsukami says:

    Hydraulic? Fungible, perhaps, but how is it supposed to be “hydraulic”?

  8. I haven’t had time to watch TV during the last two days because I was too busy with blogs! I guess the article is right.

  9. This survey nails it. Since getting DSL, I know I socialize a lot less with Spanky, the manager of the adult bookstore on Capitol Hill.

  10. Kate says:

    A friend recently asked me how much time I spend blogging. I replied, “three or four hours a day”.

    “Three or four hours!”, he exclaimed.

    I asked how much time he spent watching TV.

    “Three or four hours.” he admitted.