Survey results released Tuesday, Aug. 9, by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 92 percent of all adults who go online use e-mail and search engines — leaving one to wonder what, exactly, the remaining 8 percent are doing.
“E-mail and search form the core of online communication and online information gathering, respectively,” according to the Pew findings. “And they have done so for nearly a decade, even as new platforms, broadband and mobile devices continue to reshape the way Americans use the Internet and Web. “
By comparison, in 2002, “more than eight in 10 online adults were using search engines, and more than nine in 10 online adults were e-mailing,” Pew reported.
If there’s a difference between now and a decade ago, it’s that Americans are e-mailing and searching online more regularly now — about 61 percent of online adults do both now on an average day, whereas in 2002, just 49 percent of online adults used e-mail during the average day and only 29 percent used a search engine.
Pew surveyed nearly 2,300 adults within the past year for the research.
While governments integrated e-mail into their everyday work from the very beginning, they seem to finally be catching on that search engines are the dominant means of information gathering on the Internet. Some, like Texas and Utah, are redesigning their .gov Web portals to make search the primary way to navigate the site.
The Pew research didn’t address online usage trends among children. A comScore report from early 2011 found that during the past 12 months, time spent using Web-based e-mail had dropped 59 percent among 12- to 17-year-olds, and was also down among those age 18 to 54. Conversely mobile e-mail usage is increasing, with 70.1 million users accessing e-mail on a mobile device — an increase of 36 percent year over year.