Study: One-quarter of all Internet time spent using social media

April 26, 2013

Contributing Writer

By Walton LaVonda, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsinShare57

A new Experian study says that 27% of all Internet time in the U.S. is spent on social media, a 3% decrease from the previous year.

So, is social media consuming our lives or is it on the decline? Probably neither, but let’s dig a little deeper into their findings:

Average time spent in 2012 by marketMuch ado about nothing?

Consider the following chart:


It shows that year-over-year Internet use has grown substantially. If this trajectory holds true (for example 30% of 35 hrs/wk versus 27% of 40 hrs / wk), then there probably hasn’t been a noticeable shift in total social media consumption from year-to-year. In aggregate, we’re probably as social now as we were a year ago.

Note what did change:

Entertainment – up 2%, which isn’t entirely surprising given Netflix’s growth, and offerings like Time Warner Cable’s streaming television

News, Shopping and Lifestyle – each up 1% 

With mobile device, social media use, online entertainment consumption, and online shopping all trending upward in younger demographics – it stands to reason that time online will continue to increase while the mix of online activities may change somewhat to reflect what offline activity is being replaced. After all, how much time would you reasonably expect someone to spend on Facebook?

More email on mobile than social media?


One of the gems of this study was the percentage of time spent on different activities using mobile devices. While social media use took up about 15% of time, email took up about a quarter of time spent on mobile devices. Compare that to a relatively slight 5% of total Internet time, and it’s quite clear that email communications need to be optimized for mobile consumption.

But this shows again that many of the comparisons year-over-year are akin to comparing apples-to-oranges. Percentages can intimate something different from reality if the pie increases every year. But it is an interesting insight into how people are spending their time online.

What do you make of this study? Is there any significance to the decrease in percentage time spent on social media?

Photo by Walton LaVonda, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Source: Leaders West


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