Social Networks and Online Games Rule Our Lives

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The top three activities online are social media, gaming and email.
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A new study conducted by market researcher Nielsen reveals that Americans are spending almost a quarter of their online time checking in with friends on social networking sites and blogs -- more than double the time they spend checking their emails.

In June 2010, the average American spent 22.7 percent of their Internet time on social networks (up from 15.8 percent in June 2009), 10.2 percent of their time playing online games (up from 9.3 percent this time last year) and just 8.3 percent of their time checking and replying to emails (down almost 30 percent year-on-year).

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"Despite the almost unlimited nature of what you can do on the web, 40 percent of U.S. online time is spent on just three activities -- social networking, playing games and emailing leaving a whole lot of other sectors fighting for a declining share of the online pie," said Nielsen analyst Dave Martin in a report released on August 2.

A June 2010 study by Hitwise showed a similar pattern in the United Kingdom. In May 2010, visits to social networks exceeded those to search engines in the UK for the first time.

Mobile Internet usage figures in the United States differed slightly with email still at the top of the list. In 2010 email took up more than 40 percent of U.S. users' mobile Internet time. Social network usage is increasing in leaps and bounds in the mobile sector too, with a 28 percent rise year-on-year.

Consumers in the US are using their mobile devices more frequently than they were last year to watch videos and listen to music online. Sports and news consumption, on the other hand, have both dropped off by around 20 percent since June 2009.

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"Although we see similar characteristics amongst pc and mobile Internet use, the way their activity is allocated is still pretty contrasting," revealed Martin.

"While convergence will continue, the unique characteristics of computers and mobiles, both in their features and when and where they are used mean that mobile Internet behavior mirroring its PC counterpart is still some way off."

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