Social media is hogging people's online time, according to a new study by Experian Marketing Services.
"If the time spent on the Internet for personal computers was distilled into an hour, then 27 percent of it would be spent on social networking and forums across (the) U.S., U.K. and Australia in 2012," a press release from Experian said. "In the U.S., 16 minutes out of every hour online is spent on social networking and forums, nine minutes on entertainment sites and five minutes shopping."
But this social media usage is a decline from last year. "The U.S., which has been the most dominant market for social media consumption in the last three years, dropped from 30 percent of all time spent online to 27 percent," the report said.
Jennifer Van Grove with CNet, after looking at the survey, said the 3 percentage-point drop in social media use means other things had to increase. "Consumers seemed to fill the void by spending more time shopping and reading news, two categories that grew in terms of time spent online in 2012 across all three markets (U.S., U.K. and Australia)."
Andrew Beaujon at Poynter pointed out, "Social use declined slightly from Experian's 2011 survey, and news use went up a little bit. Time spent on email — hallelujah — declined. Last fall, Pew found that one-third of adults under 30 now get their news on social networks."
But the study was mainly looking at desktop usage. As the use of mobile devices to access the Internet increases, desktop online use is changing shape.
Experian Marketing Services digital marketing manager James Murray told CBR, "Consumers are changing the way they interact online, and the rise of 3G and now 4G mobile Internet access means more visits are being made on the move, particularly in social and email."
In total, mobile and desktop use of social media can add up. Pat Hurst at The Independent said people in Britain, for example, spend 62 million hours on social media each day — an average of one hour per day for every adult and child.
Van Grove at CNet says the drop in social usage seems "a bit perplexing." Perhaps, she says, the social services are pointing people to more news and shopping sites.
Perhaps mobile is taking over.
On mobile devices, email is king, taking 23 percent of all usage time. Social media on mobile devices is at 15 percent, according to the Experian study.
"More visits are being made on the move, particularly among social networking and email," said Bill Tancer, general manager of global research for Experian Marketing Services. "With smartphones and tablets becoming more powerful, our data clearly indicates the difference between mobile and traditional desktop usage further (enable) the 'always on' consumer mentality."
Other U.S. findings on desktop usage online show 4 percent of the time is used on email, 5 percent on business, 15 percent on entertainment, 4 percent on lifestyle, 1 percent on travel and 4 percent on "adult" websites. Twenty-seven percent of the time was spent on "other."
Unfortunately, only 4 percent was used on news websites.