Thanks to the Internet, Americans are devoting less of their free time to watching television and more to creating socially useful stuff.
A year ago, the Nielsen Company reported that Americans’ TV viewing hit an all-time record high in the first quarter of 2010, with the average person spending 158 hours and 25 minutes a month in front of the idiot box.* That record didn’t last long. Nielsen has released a new media-usage report, and it shows that in the first quarter of 2011, the average American watched TV for 158 hours and 47 minutes a month, up another 0.2 percent and, once again, a new all-time high.* Twenty years into the Web revolution, and we’re boob-tubier than ever.
But even that understates our video consumption. One of the Net’s big effects has been to free TV programming from the living room and the bedroom. We can now watch the tube through our laptops and smartphones 24/7 – at work, in restaurants, and while strolling down the street. And that’s just what we’re doing. In the first quarter of 2011, the average American watched 4 hours and 33 minutes of streaming video a month on a computer, up a whopping 34.5 percent from year-earlier levels. That same average American watched an additional 4 hours and 20 minutes of video on a mobile phone, up 20 percent from Q1 2010. You no longer need a couch to be a couch potato.
Of course, we’re doing more on the Net than just watching video. We’re also playing Angry Birds. As of the start of this year, human beings were devoting 200 million minutes a day to playing the addictive computer game. That works out to 1.2 billion hours of our collective annual cognitive surplus.*
Bottom line: the more time we spend in front of media devices, the more time we fritter away. Shocked? Me neither.
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