Time Spent Using Technology for Entertainment

Let’s stray from the topic of weather for a moment, because climate change is too depressing of a reality.

Video Games, Social Media, and Cable TV

Technology is having an ever increasing presence in our lives, from data analysis to watching “funny cat videos” online. Technology is often used for entertainment, namely for playing video, checking one’s social media, and watching television. How do these different forms of media compare? The average American spends 6.3 hours (links are sources) a week, or 54 minutes per day, playing video games. On the other hand, 135.4 minutes is spent on major social networking websites (Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter) and 169 minutes is spent watching television. Here’s a graph comparing the data:

BarChart[{54, 135.4, 169},
 ChartStyle -> "BlueGreenYellow",
 ChartLegends -> {"Video Games", "Social Networking", "TV"},
 PlotLabel -> 
 Style["Daily Average Minutes Americans Spend using Technology for \
Entertainment", 15, Black],
 ChartLabels -> Placed[{"54", "134.5", "169"}, Above]


Not surprisingly, the least amount of time is dedicated to video games, which lack the accessibility of something as relatable as social media and of more traditional forms of entertainment, such as cable television.


YouTube far outcompetes any cable company, with over 4 billion daily views on the videos uploaded by its users. In fact, roughly 300 hours of video are uploaded each minute to the website, which is equal to a whopping 432,000 hours or about 49 years every day.

49 years. Daily.

To better our understanding of the insane amount of video this is, let’s create a timeline. Suppose the rate of video production, which will inevitably rise in the future, remains constant. Each day on the timeline represents 49 more years of video produced.


By the first day, we will have surpassed 25 years, which is how long the average human sleeps in an entire lifetime. Enough video will also have been uploaded for Voyager 1 to watch from its launch 38 years ago to where it is now, in interstellar space.

On day two, 98 years of video will have been created, exceeding the time it takes Halley’s comet to orbit the sun (which is why we only see it every 75 years).

By day five, there will be enough video–more than 122 years–for the oldest human being on record to watch, from their birth to their death. If we were to travel back to the creation of the Declaration of Independence, we would have enough content to watch until the present.

On the tenth day, 590 years of video (of questionable quality) will exist. We would be able to watch shamlessly stolen viral videos, sensationalist anti-government “documentaries”, and top ten videos from the plague epidemic hit the Ming Dynasty until today.


Above, I have slightly extended the timeline. Doing this further would be rather superfluous. The insane amount of time involved makes any comprehensible visualization difficult to create.

The vast stretches of time this encompasses become even more difficult to understand when we remember that the rate video production will grow (as it was assumed to stay constant in the timeline). The timeline also failed to consider the myriad of video hosting websites that aren’t YouTube. Someday, there will be enough video to outlast the dinosaurs, the Sun, and even the universe itself.



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