The US Census Bureau has just released their new statistical abstract, and according to them, here's how the average adult or teen will spend their time in 2007:

  • 65 days in front of the TV
  • 41 days listening to the radio
  • A little over a week on the Internet
  • A week reading a daily newspaper
  • And another week listening to recorded music

I have just one question. Who the hell are these people? Nobody I know.

The Census Bureau was unavailable for comment on the findings, so I have to make some assumptions. I'm assuming that the Internet time includes any work related activity. So I tallied up my time on the Internet, actively using it, and found I averaged about 4 hours a day. Granted, I'm not a normal user (in oh-so-many ways) but bear with me. That means I spend almost 2 months on the Internet in a year.

Okay, I represent an extreme and I realize that. So how about my wife, Jill? She is above average in nearly every regard, but when it comes to Internet use, is probably a closer approximation of your garden variety user. Jill spends about an hour and a half online a day. That puts her at just over 3 weeks of surfing in a year. My kids? About 2 and a half hours a day, the majority of that chatting with umpteen zillion friends simultaneously on Messenger and butchering the English language I love, but I digress. That's about 5 and a half weeks in a year.

Perhaps the whole Hotchkiss family is abnormal when it comes to using the Net. Who's the least Net savvy person I know? My Mom and Dad. Even they spend a half hour a day, which puts even them slightly higher than the U.S. average.

Let's attack the question in a different way. Let's put together a day in the life of this mythical average American. According to the statistical abstract, here's how their day is spent:

4.27 hours watching TV
2.7 hours listening to the radio
And roughly a half hour each, surfing the Net, reading a newspaper and listening to music

Let's assume that this person gets an average of 7.5 hours sleep and spends another 1.5 hours eating. That leaves less than 7 hours a day to do everything else, including being gainfully employed (unless their job is actually watching TV). Into that basket would fall things like reading a book, going for a walk with your family, hitting the gym, cleaning up the house, going on a vacation and talking with friends. Something seems askew here.

So I'm left with two possibilities. Either I have a warped view of the world because everyone I know represents the extreme end of the spectrum, or the U.S. Census Bureau has their facts wrong. If it's the former, that means there are people, somewhere, that are really dragging down our collective average by remaining comatose in front of the TV for the better part of a day. I knew they existed, I just didn't know there were so many of them. And it can't really be the second possibility, can it? I mean, when's the last time you remember the government getting their facts wrong?

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January 9, 2007

Gord Hotchkiss is President and CEO of Enquiro, Canada's leading search engine marketing firm and one of the top firms in North America. His articles are regularly published in both on and off line newsletters, including Marketing Monitor, SEOToday, Marketing and many other trade journals. Enquiro's own information portal is

With an extensive 20 year background in the marketing and advertising business, Gord has been working to increase client's search engine visibility since 1996 and has specialized in search engine marketing since 1999.

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