Nielsen: Social Networking is 23 Pct of Americans’ Online Time

A new report from market analysis firm Nielsen shows that in June 2010 Americans spend nearly a quarter of their online time (22.7 percent) using social networking sites and services, up from 15.8 percent in June 2009. Proportionately, that’s a 43 percent increase year-to-year, underscoring the popularity of things like Facebook and Twitter—it’s also the biggest increase in any of the 10 categories of Internet usage Nielsen attempted to measure year-to-year. Online games accounted for 10.2 percent of Americans’ online time in June, with email taking another 8.3 percent.

nielsen social networking is 23 pct of americans online time june 2010  pie chart

“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 statement.

None of the other categories Nielsen attempted to measure directly managed a showing over 5 percent: “Portals” accounted for 4.4 percent of users’ online time in June 2010 (from from 5.5 percent last year); instant messaging accounted for 4 percent, videos and movies just 3.9 percent, and search 3.5 percent. Instant messaging also saw a year-to-year decline, proportionately down 15 percent compared to 2009. However, the biggest single category of Internet use in Nielsen’s survey was “Other,” at 34.3 percent, meaning Nielsen’s ten board categories only managed to account for about two thirds of respondents’ online activities.

The 2010 figures represent the first time online games have accounted for more of users’ online time than email.

Nielsen also found significant differences in mobile Internet usage, as compared to traditional computers: email accounts for some 41.6 percent of mobile Internet users’ online time.