updated 2/15/2006 7:54:18 PM ET 2006-02-16T00:54:18

Some people go online just for the sake of it: A new study finds that on any given day, nearly a third of U.S. Internet users log on just for fun or to pass the time.

Compared with other online tasks, recreational surfing ranks behind only e-mail and search and it's about even with getting news online, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

"What it says about the Internet is that it is becoming a full-blown destination in itself," said Deb Fallows, the Pew senior research fellow who led the study released Wednesday. "They are just led there just to see what is going on."

Pew credits the growth in broadband connections at home and the increase in the number and variety of Web sites available.

The 30 percent of Internet users who went online for fun on a given day represents an increase from 21 percent a year earlier.

Skeptics may see parallels with television channel-surfing, an activity often dismissed as mindless.

But Fallows said the Internet is different: "It's not a passive activity that you're just sucking yourself into. You are navigating yourself around, you are discovering things, learning things."

The random telephone-based survey of 1,931 adult Internet users in the United States was conducted Nov. 29 to Dec. 31 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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