Search Is No. 2 Online Activity Across All Age Groups: Pew Study

Using search engines is the second most common online activity among all age groups, according to the new Generations 2010 report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. E-mail is the most popular online activity among each age group.

According to the Pew study, 87% of all US adults who use the Internet also use search engines. Pew gets more specific, too, reporting that 83% search for health information online — the third most popular online activity. Reading news and shopping are the fourth and fifth most common activities, respectively.


Searching for health information online would presumably be something that older adults do more often than others, but Pew’s survey shows it’s the number three activity in each adult age group.

Social networking and online video are two other activities worth noting, but not shown above. While younger adults are still most likely to use social media sites, usage among adults aged 74+ has quadrupled from 4% in 2008 to 16% this year. Online video watching is rising dramatically at all age levels — it’s jumped from 52% in 2008 to 66% this year.

Pew surveyed more than 2,200 US adults in May 2010 for the data above.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Search & Society: General | Stats: Search Behavior | Top News


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Andrewv

    Where’s Danny when you need him? How can you report on the most significant online activities and exclude 2 of the top 4 in the meat of the article. Also consider those 2 are the MOST controversial and volatile. Everyone and their mother knows that a lot of people use the internet for email and search – that’s been the same for 4 years – what every decent search marketer and internet junkie on this site wants to see is how exponentially video and social media are growing.

    It’s frustrating to see such a great site miss it’s mark by so much. I read the full article, I saw the lame 50 word attempt at getting video and social in there, but it’s an embarrassment from such a good establishment. SEL has also been better than the competition because they understood their audience and didn’t just repost any piece of information that seemed somewhat relevant to their core topics.

    Everyone’s busy these days, and we read SEL because we know we don’t have to weed through stuff like this to get to the real articles. Very disappointed.

  • Matt McGee

    Andrew, don’t you think that “every decent search marketer” also knows how exponentially video and social media are growing? Pretty sure they do. Video and social media have been growing rapidly for YEARS now. Nothing new. To be frank, this study didn’t have any real surprises in it, which is why I decided it didn’t need a super, in-depth recap. Sorry that you felt otherwise.

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