Your spare time goes into the ether

Internet users are spending most of their spare time online, compared with watching TV, playing sports, gardening or simply lazing around. According to the strategic marketing research company Media Screen, in the USA half of an individual’s spare time is spent online.

People are spending around one hour and 40 minutes online each day – and that is growing. So why is the Internet so interesting? Why are people giving it a higher priority than, say, gardening, going for walks or watching TV?

The answer is relatively straightforward from a psychological perspective. We are social animals; we have an inbuilt desire to be in contact with other human beings. Isolation is not our normal mode. Watching TV has an apparent connection with other people – we can see them, hear them, even feel as though we are “friends” with the presenters. But it’s all one-way.

On the Internet things are different. The Internet allows two-way connections; want to “chat” with your heroes? Well, you can online; not with TV – someone else does the chatting and you just eavesdrop. That’s why the Internet is taking over the TV as our prime entertainment medium – the fact that it allows two-way communication much more easily.

So what does this new report mean for anyone running a business? It means the world is changing around you rapidly and you need to respond quickly. Anyone running a business needs to ensure their business is centred in the online world – because that’s where people are now spending much of their life. At the moment, most businesses treat the Internet as just one part of their overall strategy. This report suggests that with people spending so much time online, the Internet has to become central to any business.

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