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Harland Clarke | Acquisition and Retention Marketing

Gen Yers Spend All Their Free Time Social Networking

At least, that’s what I would conclude after seeing the results of a survey which found that people under the age of 35 who use social networks (isn’t that all of them?) spend an average of 3.8 hours a day social networking.

I thought that number was huge, so I tried to estimate how people spend their day:

Activity       Hours spent
Sleeping          8.0
Working           8.0
Eating            1.5
Commuting         1.0
Prepping          1.0
Bathrooming       0.5
TOTAL            20.0

It’s quite possible your allocation is a bit different. Perhaps you eat your meals a bit more leisurely. Maybe your commute is longer. Maybe you put in more than 8 hours a day working (not readers of this blog). If you spend more time in the bathroom, there are other blogs you should be reading.

With 20 hours of the day accounted for by the listed activities, this leaves the average person with 4 hours of free time.

Of which Gen Yers spend 3.8 hours.

This means — if this is all correct — that Gen Yers spend 12 minutes, per day, of their free time doing something other than social networking.

I guess you can get a workout in in 12 minutes. Not sure you’ll get past the first hole on the golf course, though. With just 12 minutes, though, you’re not even catching half of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.


The reality, of course, is that social networking is not a separate activity from the activities listed above. Except for maybe sleeping. Sadly, many of you sickos actually sleep with your smartphone so you can text and post to Facebook the second you wake up.

But this reality is disturbing and troubling.

Disturbing: You better not be reading this blog post (a form of social networking) on the can. Or while driving on your way to or from work.

Troubling: How effective/productive can you really be at your job if you’re multi-tasking between your job and social networking?

I know that Gen Yers pride themselves on their so-called ability to multi-task. The bad news for them is that the key to being successful is FOCUS (you should read The Twitter Generation’s Delusions Of Productivity). 

I said, the key to being successful is FOCUS (I repeated myself because I know you were distracted by a tweet announcing that your buddy is now the mayor of some stupid store that no one else ever goes to).


Some marketers will look at the research results and conclude that, if people spend this much time on social networking, that they should focus their marketing efforts on social networks in order to reach their customers and prospects. 

But they’re mistaken. People on social networks are doing a gazillion other things while they’re social networking. There’s no mental bandwidth left to notice or pay attention to ads. 

I, on the other hand, look at the research results and can only conclude this: Some of you really need to get a life, get your priorities straight, get back to work, and for G*d’s sake, get your hands back on the steering wheel.

And some of you may need to wash your hands after you finish reading this.

Ron ShevlinRon Shevlin is Director of Research at Cornerstone Advisors. Get a complimentary copy of his latest research report, Technology Management Complexity: Drowning in a Sea of Technology Projects.

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The Financial Brand Forum 2016 | May 16-18 | Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas


  1. A joke I read the other day:

    “Grandpa, what were people in America doing back in 2013 rather than dealing with climate change?”
    “We were really, really into our phones.”

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