Hobbies, entertainment top topics of web searches: poll

NEW YORK Wed Apr 11, 2012 9:06am EDT

Men make use of the internet service in the private rooms of an internet cafe in Tokyo May 2, 2007. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Men make use of the internet service in the private rooms of an internet cafe in Tokyo May 2, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Well over half of people globally use the Internet to search for information on entertainment and hobbies, according to a new survey.

The online poll of more than 19,000 adults worldwide in countries ranging from the United States, Argentina and Sweden to Japan, India and Russia showed that 57 percent of people said they visit web sites for hobbies and other interests, 43 percent downloaded music and 34 percent searched for movies.

But usage in the 24 countries surveyed varied widely, with 72 percent of people in Turkey saying they visited sites for hobbies, while only 35 percent in Saudi Arabia did.

"While the internet may be a place for business and commerce, it is also a place for play," said Keren Gottfried, research manager at Ipsos Global Public Affairs which conducted the poll for Reuters.

Other heavy personal-interest, web-surfing nations included China, Hungary, Japan, South Korea and Sweden, while Argentina, Spain, India, Brazil and Mexico were among the lowest users.

China was the world leader in streaming or downloading media, with more than 70 percent selecting music or movies, followed by Turkey. Japan and France had the fewest media streamers, according to the survey.

"It's remarkable to think that the file-sharing technology, popularized for music only in recent history, is now done by four in 10 internet users in 24 countries," Gottfried said. "Even in countries at the bottom of the global ranking lists, one quarter still do it."

Twenty seven percent of people said they had played online games, reflecting what Gottfried called a booming industry, but only 13 percent said they had gamed for money.

China was also first in online gaming, with 61 percent. Poland and Turkey were a distant second and third, while the Swedes were the least avid gamers at only 13 percent. Overall 27 percent of people questioned said they have played games online.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud; editing by Patricia Reaney)

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