We found these results to be very interesting, but to discern more valuable information we put these results into the following categories in order of popularity of usage:
- Communications (email & IM)
- Locating Information (news & research)
- Entertainment (downloading games & music)
- Tasks (banking & reservations)
[We ruled out two categories that are self-selecting: downloading games and online researchâ€œ obviously college students would have a much higher usage rate than adults.]
Next what we did was to calculate the percentage differences so that we could see where the real discrepancies existed between internet usage by college students (’young people’) and by adults (’older people’).
Collectively, the most popular thing to do on the internet is email no matter what age you areâ€œ not surprising. The greatest percentage point difference is found for instant messaging: college students’ use of IM is 68% greater than adult usageâ€œ again, not surprising.
Here is where we get to the good stuff: Of all internet users, college students and adults have most similar usage when it comes to accessing information and performing tasks. What this says to us is that there is a huge potential market for getting college students to use the internet for automated tasks and choresâ€œ online banking, reservations, ect. For some reason they are not being marketed to correctly. As of 2003, 89% of all U.S. college students were using the internet – that’s 13 million students using the net. At the same time, on average only 30% use the net to complete tasks such as banking and reservations and buying airline tickets.
As for searching for jobs online, only 24% use the internet as a means for locating a job. Thus a higher percentage of college students use the internet for downloading games than they do for finding jobs. Collegiate instant message users are nearly double the percentage of college users looking for jobs onlineâ€œ why are more college students not using looking for jobs online? Why are the not using auto bill pay to pay credit cards?
It seems clear that for some reason college students are not using the internet to their advantage as well as they could. Maybe it is a lack of understanding the benefits. Maybe it is because markerters are ignoring them. But they fact is that relative to the total numbers of users, a hefty percentage of users are missing out on some of the best benefits the internet offers.