25 percent of men watch online porn, and other ‘facts’ about Americans’ online video habits

October 10, 2013
(Pew Internet & American Life Project)
(Pew Internet & American Life Project)

Do you spend a lot of time watching videos on YouTube? You're not alone. The Pew Internet & American Life project released new survey data on how Americans engage with video online Thursday. And the percentage of online adults who watch or download videos has grown from 69 percent of adult Internet users in 2009 to 78 percent today.

Humor and educational videos were both popular in Pew's 2009 survey, and remain so today, with some 57 percent of adults saying they watch comedy videos and 50 percent saying they watch educational shows. But how-to videos and music videos are also among the most viewed, with 56 percent and 50 percent of online adults respectively saying they watch them.

Just 12 percent of online adults said they watched "adult" videos, with a pretty big gender gap of 25 percent of male respondents vs. 8 percent of female respondents reporting they're watching porn. But since the survey relied on respondents' honesty, Pew notes that "this may reflect a reluctance to report the behavior among some adults."

(Pew Internet & American Life Project)
(Pew Internet & American Life Project)

Pew identifies video-sharing sites such as YouTube as being the "driving force" between the increased consumption of online video. Online adult usage of video-sharing sites skyrocketed from 33 percent in 2006 to 72 percent today.

(Pew Internet & American Life Project)
(Pew Internet & American Life Project)

American adults aren't just watching more online videos, they're posting more, too. The percentage of online adults who uploaded a video so others could watch or download it or posted videos they themselves made went from 14 percent in 2009 to 31 percent in 2013. While this group was once dominated by men under 30, it's now more common across demographics — for instance, users 30-49 are "just as likely" to post and share videos online as those 18-29.

Most often, people who record their own videos to upload reported posting videos of themselves or friends and family doing everyday things.

(Pew Internet & American Life Project)
(Pew Internet & American Life Project)

Social networking sites play a big role in online video culture, says Pew, which reports "among online video consumers, 58% say they watch videos on social networking sites like Facebook." And 71 percent of online adults who post videos online say they do so on social networking sites.  As a percentage of online adults, 45 percent watch videos on social networking and 22 percent of all adult Internet users post videos to them.

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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Andrea Peterson | October 10, 2013