Norton’s “Online Living Report” Gives Us the Latest Trends in Adults’ and Kids’ Online Behaviors

With the constantly changing online world, it’s always helpful when a new survey comes along that give us the latest reading of just what’s going on with online behavior.

Harris Interactive has just conducted its second survey of online users for Norton® Symantec. The survey was taken across 12 countries, including the U.S., five European nations, plus Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan and Brazil. The total number of people taking the 15-minute online survey was very large: nearly 6,500 adults plus ~1,300 kids age 8 to 17. That’s close to double the number of respondents who participated in Harris Interactive’s first such research project conducted in 2007 — and it gives us some very good data to chew on.

The Harris survey, published as the Norton Online Living Report, found that the average number of hours spent online per month for adults was ~89 hours. That’s well more than three full days in a month. But a look at the numbers found in some of the countries surveyed shows dramatically different results:

 China: 141 hours spent online per month on average
 Brazil: 119 hours
 India: 87 hours
 Japan: 85 hours
 United States: 56 hours
 Canada: 46 hours

No doubt, these figures will challenge the perceptions of some who have thought that citizens in the developed world are more “wired” than those in the developing nations. Could it be that there are fewer exciting alternative activities competing for consumers’ time and attention in China or Brazil?

As for kids’ online activities, one very interesting finding from Harris is that American and British youth report being online twice as long as their parents think they’re online:

 U.S. kids report being online 42 hours per month, versus 18 hours their parents estimate they’re spending online.

 U.K. youths report being online 44 hours per month, versus 19 hours their parents estimate.

Clearly, the age-old disconnect between parents’ perception and kids actual behavior is alive and well – and hasn’t changed at all in the Internet age!

What’s more, even with parents’ wildly inaccurate estimate of the time their kids are online, nearly three-fourths of U.S. and Canadian parents believe their children are spending too much time at the computer. So the perception-versus-reality gulf is even more stark.

[The only country where a clear minority of parents feel this way is Japan, at ~30%.]

Basically, when it comes to their children, the Harris survey quantifies what any parent already knows: for the kids, it’s online all the way. Consider these stats that Harris Interactive gleaned from surveying U.S. children:

 American kids have an average of nearly 85 online friends – the highest among all 12 countries surveyed.

 They “out-text” the rest of the world, too – with U.S. kids spending upwards of 10 hours per week texting compared to ~4 hours for kids elsewhere.

And yet … it appears that the kids themselves have an inkling there are healthy limits that should be placed on the “online, all the time” experience. Half of the American youths surveyed agree that “instant messaging and texting make learning to write more difficult.”

Anyone who has frustratingly received e-mail messages from their children in college … with nary a capitalized letter or punctuation mark to be found in them … will surely identify with this last bit!

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