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Are we really spending less time online?

india Updated: Oct 19, 2012 14:37 IST

New research published Wednesday from Forrester claims we're actually spending 2.3 fewer hours a week using the internet than in 2011.

The study shows that in 2011 the average American spent 21.9 hours a week online, while now the figure has dropped to 19.6 hours. This is a strange figure indeed considering the US is the world's largest tablet and smartphone market and, with 27 million consumers subscribing to 4G LTE contracts, also leads the world in the uptake of high-speed mobile internet access.

But it could be explained by the fact that rather than tracking use, the sample group of 58,000 Americans over the age of 18 were asked to estimate how much time they spent on the internet.

Concept of 'online' has changed

Forrester claims that the time spent online is falling because our concept of the term ‘online' has changed. We've always connected, whether we're surfing or not, and because we now send messages and share photos via social media rather than an email client, the experience is different and therefore we may not consider it internet use.

As Forrester analyst Gina Sverdlov says: "Despite the fact that they always have connected devices and are always online, they don't really realize they're online. They're using Google Maps or checking in on Facebook, but that's not considered online because it has become such a part of everyday life."

More tech-savvy means more efficient

But as the internet has become part of our everyday lives, so has our familiarity with it, and there is another argument that we're all becoming much more tech-savvy: we don't waste as much time browsing or searching. We know exactly where to go to get what we want, whether via bookmarks or apps.

However, some old habits that many experts had predicted would be extinct by now still remain. We still spend on average two hours a week reading physical newspapers, according to the study, as well as 1.9 hours a week with magazines, 12.6 hours watching a real TV and five hours a week listening to the radio.