Home / Politics / Policy /  Urban youth spend free time online, not outside

Mumbai: India’s urban youth spends a lot more of its free time online rather than being out playing or running or working out, shows a recent survey conducted by market researcher YouGov in collaboration with Mint. More than half of urban youth said that they spend at least four hours a week either being on social media or surfing the internet for leisure, excluding time spent for work-related purposes. In contrast, less than half of youth spent even an hour a week in outdoor sports or related activities.

These results are true for both the relatively younger and the older respondents.

The results of YouGov-Mint Millennial Survey are based on an online poll of over 5,000 respondents spread across 180 cities.

Millennials refer to those born between 1981 and 1996, i.e., those aged 22 to 37 in 2018. The younger generation, born after 1996, is often referred to as ‘generation Z’ or Gen Zers.

While the survey suggests that online time exceeds time devoted to physical activity, it does not necessarily suggest that urban youth does not care about fitness.

Sports and fitness activities still rank higher than hobbies such as arts and crafts or playing musical instruments when it comes to spending free time. Meanwhile, investors seem to be betting big on India’s fitness and preventive healthcare industry, banking on an expected rise in the number of health conscious individuals.

The survey further reveals that reading was the most popular leisure activity, with 58% of millennials and Gen Zers saying that they indulged in it regularly. This was closely followed by time spent online, 55%.

Besides surfing and social media, the younger cohorts are also increasingly turning to internet for entertainment, shunning cable television. A larger share of Gen Zers, the youngest group in the survey, watches online content such as Netflix or Hotstar compared to cable TV.

The survey results confirm what media analysts have been hinting at for some time—that the media and entertainment sector in India is facing disruption.

Meanwhile, hobbies such as arts and crafts, playing musical instruments, photography, etc. remain much less favoured compared to reading or being online or engaging in fitness activities. Only 15% of youth, i.e. millennials and Gen Zers, said they regularly played some musical instrument and only 20% said they were engaged in arts and crafts. Also, women are relatively more likely than men to engage in cooking, gardening, arts and crafts.

Interestingly, data does not suggest that working people are less likely to pursue hobbies than students or those not working.

While 63% of working (employed) youth reported indulging in any one of the five hobbies—art & craft, photography, cooking, gardening or playing musical instruments—only 54% of students said so.

However, data does suggest that family income might have some role in influencing pursuit of hobbies. Urban youth from relatively richer households are more likely to pursue the aforementioned hobbies.

This is consistent with the trend seen world over, with richer societies more likely to give importance to their leisure activities.

If the above pattern holds true, then India, with its rising incomes, should see increased demand for leisure activities in the years ahead, possibly leading to increased demand for professionals in the field.

This is the third of a four-part data journalism series on India’s digital natives. The fourth part will examine how millennials navigate their urban commute, and will appear next Monday.

To read the first and second parts, click here and here.

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