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This Digital Life: How we are increasingly spending our lives online

Published 12/09/2015

Surf’s up: people are spending more time on social media than ever before
Surf’s up: people are spending more time on social media than ever before

So are we a nation of internet addicts? A new survey promises to give the definitive answer about how long we devote to the web each day. Katie Wright delves into the data.

The average person in the UK spends two hours and 51 minutes on the internet each day, according to new research from the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB).

The survey, based on figures from the first half of 2015, is intended to help marketers tailor their ad spend, but nevertheless, reveals some interesting tech trends.

Data shows social media still accounts for the highest proportion of online time at 17%, marking a 5% rise over the past two years. Meanwhile, entertainment such as TV, films and music has fallen from 22% to 12% over the same period.

Why the change? More time is being spent surfing on our smartphones and tablets - 55% to be exact - making us increasingly likely to browse the web while we're on the move, rather than at home. But we're also consuming more entertainment on our laptops and PCs - 19% versus 8% for portable devices. People are streaming sitcoms on Netflix and listening to music on Spotify, both of which rely heavily on Wi-Fi connectivity.

Social apps are emerging all the time (have you tried live video streaming on Periscope yet?), so there's every chance this figure will continue to rise.

The key question is: when will we reach social media saturation point? It's hard to predict, because while time spent on the internet has remained relatively consistent over the last few years, the way those hours are split has changed considerably.

More accurate data is going to be key. A GlobalWebIndex survey released early this year found respondents spent more than six hours online each day. However, Oxford University researchers have previously admitted users are not very good at estimating their own online habits.

The IAB survey, on the other hand, measured the browser habits of 73,000 people, as well as analysing website and app traffic, which resulted in much more precise data.

Social media's peak does not appear to have been reached just yet, but when it does, the likes of Facebook may need to rethink their strategies.

Belfast Telegraph

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