What are We Not Doing When We're Online?

Scott Wallsten

Technology Policy Institute

November 1, 2011

While Americans are spending an increasing amount of leisure time engaged in online activities, total leisure time has remained constant since at least 2003. This paper uses data from the American Time Use Survey from 2003-2010 to investigate the extent to which online leisure is substituting for other leisure activities. The analysis suggests that online leisure, especially online video and social networking, appears to come at the expense of watching traditional television, socializing, and relaxing. However, the net crowding out effect is incomplete — each minute of online leisure is correlated with 0.27 minutes less of other leisure — suggesting that at least some online leisure occurs concurrently with other, offline, leisure. Nevertheless, both the amount of time engaged in online leisure and the magnitude of the (negative) correlation between online and offline activity are increasing, suggesting that online activities are taking the place of a growing share of offline leisure activities. Additionally, some evidence suggests that new online activities also crowd out previous online activities. In particular, online leisure is increasingly negatively correlated with time spent on personal email.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 27

Keywords: broadband, video, online video, leisure

JEL Classification: D12, J2, L82, L86, L96

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Date posted: November 30, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Wallsten, Scott, What are We Not Doing When We're Online? (November 1, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1966654 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1966654

Contact Information

Scott Wallsten (Contact Author)
Technology Policy Institute ( email )
1099 New York Ave., NW
Suite 520
Washington, DC 20001
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.wallsten.net
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