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August 2, 2010

Social Networking, Gaming Top Online Activities In US

The average American spends roughly 25-percent of their time on the Internet visiting social networking websites and blogs, and people now spend more time playing games online than checking their email, according to the results of a new Nielsen research study.

The report, which was the subject of a Monday article by Jon Swartz of USA Today, notes that Internet-surfing PC users spend approximately six hours per month visiting sites such as Facebook and Twitter--a more than 40-percent increase over June 2009. It's not just younger users, either--according to Nielsen, twice as many people over the age of 50 used social networks than kids under the age of 18.

Furthermore, according to Swartz's article, online games took up approximately 10-percent of the average user's online time, and approximately half of all U.S. Internet users spent at least some time online playing games. In addition, time spent sending or reading email decreased from 11.5-percent in June 2009 to just 8-percent last month.

"Meanwhile, time spent on Web portals decreased 19 percent to a 4.4 percent share of all activity, and instant messaging had a 4 percent share, a decrease of 15 percent," says Benny Evangelista of SFGate.com's "The Tech Chronicles" blog. "And viewing of online videos and movies increased 12 percent to about 3.9 percent of all activities, allowing that category to surge past online searches."

"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 e-mailing, leaving a whole lot of other sectors fighting for a declining share of the online pie," Nielsen analyst Dave Martin told reporters in a press statement released Sunday evening.

According to Evangelista, Facebook was dominant among social networking traffic, capturing an 85-percent share with members spending an average of six hours logged into the service during the month of June 2010. MySpace was second (5.6-percent), followed by Twitter and Blogger (each with 1.1-percent). Game-wise, Electronic Arts led the way, capturing 17-percent of users' gaming hours, followed by Blizzard Entertainment (12-percent) and Mafiawars.com (5.2-percent).

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