The growth of people using the Internet as a "destination for fun" coincides with the rise of broadband connections.

Story highlights

Survey: 53% of young adults go online for no particular reason

Growth coincides with rise of social networking and online video

The trend suggests that the Web is becoming a competitor to other leisure activities

Mashable  — 

Americans are going online to pass the time more than they were just a few years ago, according to a new study.

A report from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that about 53% of young adults ages 18 to 29 go online on any given day for no particular reason except for a diversion or just for fun. About 81% of people in this demographic said they have done so at least occasionally.

The study – conducted among 2,260 adults ages 18 and over on landlines and cellphones – has a margin of error of 3.7%.

But it’s not just young web users that turn to the Internet during their down time – about 58% of all adults or 74% of online adults said they use the Internet this way, up from 45% of adults who said they did so in a Pew survey conducted in 2006. Pew noted that the growth of people using the Internet as a “destination for fun” coincides with the rise of broadband connections, social networking and video.

The trend also suggests that the Web is becoming a competitor to other kinds of other leisure activities.

“These findings are one of our main signs about how deeply Internet use has woven itself into the rhythms of people’s lives,” lead author Lee Rainie told Mashable.

“When they have some down time, more and more of them are finding the Internet a fun, diverting place to spend their leisure moments. It’s not necessarily surprising to see that this is a favorite pastime of young adults. It is a bit surprising to see that the incidence of this use has grown in every age demographic. The Internet is not just the playground of the young.”

The study did not ask respondents specifically how they are spending their time online for fun.