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BizReport : : October 18, 2012

Time spent 'using the Internet' falls to pre-2010 levels. Or has it?

Consumers are spending less time online today than they did in 2010, according to new figures released by Forrester Research. How can this be?

by Helen Leggatt

According to Forrester's survey of 58,000 U.S. adults, consumers aren't spending as many hours 'using the Internet' today as they were a couple of years ago. Back in 2010, 20.6 hours were spent 'using the Internet' in a typical week, peaking in 2011 at 21.9 hours.

Forrester's survey reveals that in 2012 consumers spent just 19.6 hours per week 'using the Internet'.

How can it be that, with the onslaught of mobile technology and more widespread Internet access, Internet use is declining? Forrester believes the answer lies in a difference in perception between being online and 'using the Internet'.

For example, today's consumers don't equate checking and interacting on social networks or using maps via their mobile device as the 'using the Internet'. Such activity is "not considered online because it has become such a part of everyday life", explains Forrester analyst Gina Sverdlov.

Instead, 'using the Internet' has come to describe more serious tasks, such as search, and is associated more with being in front of a desktop or laptop PC.

Perhaps another cause for the decline in time spent 'using the Internet' could be that consumers are becoming more comfortable and efficient at finding what they want. Similarly, search has evolved to provide more relevant results and websites have become quicker to load and easier to navigate.

Tags: consumer survey, Internet usage, mobile Internet, online usage, social network

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