What are people really doing on-line?

A recent study culminating in Norton Online Living Report offers an interesting insight in to the digital lifestyle habits of adults and children around the world and focuses on how people worldwide are conducting personal interactions and connecting emotionally online.

One of the interesting findings from the worldwide study is that parents’ perception of what their children are doing online does not reflect the reality of what their children are doing. For example, in the U.S. parents believe that 6% of their children have been approached online by a stranger, yet 16% of children in the U.S. report they have been approached by a stranger online.

Another interesting point is that about half of adults, and slightly fewer children, have made friends online – and, of those, many (about 60 to 80%) have translated these online friendships to their offline world. 

Here is a snapshot of findings from the Norton Online Living Report:

Norton Online Living Report, Vol. 1, Key Findings

Country Profile – Australia, UK and U.S.

Moderate Activity/Moderate Security

Across the board, Australia, the UK and the U.S. follow the global standard for Internet behaviour, with relatively few exceptions. In a few unusual, discrete cases such as the UK spending less time following news online and the U.S. expressing greater comfort with sharing credit card information, these three countries are the norm and have a very similar pattern of behaviour and attitudes.

Among online users in Australia, the UK, and the U.S.:

  • The vast majority are highly likely to communicate by email.
  • About 1 in 5 work on their personal blog at least sometimes.
  • Most use the Internet for entertainment, including playing games, following sports, getting reviews and advice, and doing school work at least sometimes.
  • About 8 in 10 bank online; many fewer manage investments – sometimes or more often.
  • A majority feel uncomfortable providing personal information, but most have still shared basic information with strangers, such as email and name, though fewer have shared more sensitive information such as their credit card number.
  • Most have installed security software on their computers and run virus scans for protection, but far fewer take other steps such as using complex passwords or surfing only trusted sites.
  • Most are concerned about the online environment being safe for kids, but slightly less than half of parents have actually set parental controls.

Communicating:
•       Many online adults spend at least one hour per month sending text messages from their mobile phones
•       41% of U.S. online adults (constantly, frequently or sometimes) and 46% of U.S. online kids use the Internet to download or watch movies
o       A whopping 97% of Chinese online adults and 96% of Chinese online kids do the same

Socialising:

•       Nearly half of online adults in the U.S. have made friends online, of those users, approximately 60-80% have translated these online friendship to their offline world
•       About half of online adults in the U.S. prefer their online friendships the same amount or more than their offline friendships
•       As many as 4 in 10 (10-44% varying by country) online adults around the world feel confident socialising with strangers online
•       As many as 88% of online children in China have made friends online; nearly three-quarters (74%) of online children in Brazil report the same

Living:

•       Online gaming is enormously popular, with nearly three-quarters (74%) of online adults in the U.S. and more than 9 in 10 (96%) online children in the U.S. playing games
o       Nearly all adults and children online in China (95% and 99%, respectively) play online games
•       China and Brazil lead the countries surveyed in downloading music
o       97% of adults and 98% of children in China download music
o       88% of adults and 89% of children in Brazil download music 
•       About two-thirds (66%) of online adults, and 7 in 10 (70%) online children in the U.S. visit video sharing web sites

Informing:

•       Most online adults spend at least one hour per month both reading news from online sites/blogs
•       More than 9 in 10 online children in the U.S. (94%), Germany (93%), France (93%) and China (93%) research via the internet

Buying:

•       Almost all online users report shopping online at least sometimes
o       Global users have a high degree of confidence making purchases online
•       Nearly half of users in China feel confident sharing personal information; only 5% of online users in Japan feel confident sharing personal information

Banking:
•       Personal finance falls behind commerce as a standard internet activity, but the majority of global online users have handled some of their most basic financial transactions online
o       About 4 in 5 online adults bank or pay bills online at least sometimes
o       China has the highest number of users who bank or pay bills online with nearly 9 in 10 (87%), the U.S. has nearly 8 in 10 (79%) users

Exploring:
•       The majority of online adults (85%) and children (52%) have been a victim of some level of cyber attack (from minor spam emails to major hack attempts) and express   concern about online safety
•       More than 8 in 10 online adults are not confident using the internet without security software
•       More than a third (34%) of users in the U.S. have shared credit card information—the highest number globally—while just a little more than 1 in 10 (13%) users in Brazil divulge this information
•       The majority of adult users worldwide have installed security software but few go beyond basic steps, such as changing passwords frequently and surfing only on trusted sites
•       More than a third of adults in all countries visit adult or pornographic web sites, with more than half in Brazil and China doing so

Protecting:
•       While the majority of parents recognise online threats to their children, most underestimate the prevalence of these threats and far fewer are taking actionable steps, such as setting parental controls
•       Many parents and children talk openly about what children are doing online, which perhaps results in their overconfidence that their children are being protected online
•       Most parents believe the internet is not as safe for children as for adults and most children believe the internet is not as safe for themselves as for adults
•       The U.S. and Australia have the highest number of parents who believe the internet is not as safe for children as it is for adults
•       Parents underestimate how often their children are approached by strangers online and encounter cyber pranks, with the U.S., UK and France having the highest number of unaware parents
o       U.S. parents believe that 6% of their children have been approached online by a stranger, yet 16% of children in the U.S. report they have been approached by a stranger online

The Norton Online Living Report survey was conducted online in eight countries (U.S., UK, Australia, Germany, France, Brazil, China, and Japan) by Harris Interactive on behalf of Symantec between 12 November and 17 December 2007 among 4,687 adults 18 years of age and older and 2,717 children aged 8 to 17 years old who spend one or more hours online each month and can be found at http://www.symantec.com/norton/theme2.jsp?themeid=nolr

 

Morris’s thoughts

This report is fascinating and offers a statistical framework for what was a previously anecdotal only topic.

What is most fascinating is how entrenched technology and on line activities have become in our lives and the growing reliance we have on-line for living our off-line lives.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: