Time Spent on Facebook, Gaming Surges

Social Media Usage on PCs Grows 43% in a Year as E-mail, Instant Messaging, Portals Decline

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BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- The time Americans spent on social media has surged 43% in the past year, leading a substantial shift in how the country spends its online time. That time spent online has also sent e-mail to third behind gaming, according to research by Nielsen Co.

The time spent on social media accessed from PCs rose from 15.8% in June 2009 to 22.7% in June 2010, according to Nielsen, while online gaming gained more modestly to 10.2% of online time from 9.3% a year earlier. But that was enough to push gaming past e-mail, which fell to 8.3% of online time spent at the PC from 10.5% a year earlier.

To an extent, separating social-media time from gaming time has become tougher, given that a growing portion of online gaming takes place via Facebook applications such as Zynga's Farmville, Nielsen analyst Dave Martin acknowledged.

"There's significant overlap there, obviously," Mr. Martin said. "A big part of the expansion of online gaming has been directly attributable to the expansion of online media."

Mobile web access
The data also doesn't include mobile web access, which still is predominantly used for e-mail, Mr. Martin said. The shift of e-mail use from PCs to mobile devices accounts for some of the decline of time spent on e-mail at PCs, he said.

Online video and search also scored modest gains in share of online time, according to Nielsen. But despite increasing to 3.9% of online time from 3.5% a year earlier, online video time still only averaged an hour and 15 minutes per person per month, an amount of time many people spend with traditional TV on the morning of the first day of the month. YouTube accounted for about 70% of online video time on PCs, Mr. Martin said.

Time spent on internet portals such as Yahoo declined faster than anything but e-mail, according to Nielsen.

Instant messaging also lost share of time at the PC, Mr. Martin said, which was likely a result of increased use of mobile texting in part. Social-media usage also appears to be usurping some of the communications needs once reserved for e-mail and instant messaging, he said.

Top 10 Sectors by Share of U.S. Internet Time
Subcategory Share of Time June 2010 Share of Time June 2009 % Change in Share of Time
1 Social Networks
2 Online Games
3 E-mail
4 Portals
5 Instant Messaging
6 Videos/Movies
7 Search
8 Software Manufacturers
9 Multi-category Entertainment
10 Classifieds/Auctions
Source: The Nielsen Company
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