UK web users surf up a storm as online time rockets

Brits are now spending more than a full day a month online. For businesses, this cuts both ways...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

British web users are spending more time online than ever before, according to a new survey. In fact, we’re now spending an average of almost a day a month surfing – 65% more than three years ago. Could there be commercial benefits to this increasing level of tech-savviness? Or are we just wasting a lot more of our time?

Arguably it’s the latter: according to UK Online Measurement, the majority of our online time is spent on social networks or blogs. But while some suggested email would become a casualty of Twitter, it seems we are still able to communicate in messages of more than 140 characters: the amount of time we spend emailing has actually risen, to just over 7% of the time we spend online. The same can’t be said for instant messaging, though – apparently, Facebook is replacing the likes of AIM. (Could this mean the death of the irritating animated emoticon? We can but hope...)

Of course, this creates some big business opportunities. Take gaming, which now accounts for almost 7% of online time; when Mr T starts endorsing online game/geek badge of honour World of Warcraft, you know that times are changing. News – encouragingly for the likes of us – is also proving popular. And 'adult' content providers, who receive almost 3% of online time, are also cashing in. But it won’t be good for everyone: apparently, we’re spending a lot more time on auction websites like eBay and classified sites like Gumtree, which could spell trouble for smaller independent retailers (who run the risk of being squeezed out).

The other issue for companies is that these stats point to a blurring of the boundary between work and home. Research by Clearswift has found more than half of under-35s think it’s ok to go on Facebook or Twitter, check personal emails, and shop online (no word on adult content, though) during work time. While most say they justify it by working longer hours or through lunch, some see the ability to access social media as their God-given right: 21% reckon they would turn down a job if it didn’t give them access.

So as well as the usual worries about productivity, you also need to think about this area when you’re plotting your recruitment and retention strategy. As Mr T might say: pity the fool who doesn’t.

In today's bulletin:

FTSE follows euro south after Germans ban naked short-selling
Google extends olive branch to Murdoch
UK web users surf up a storm as online time rockets
H8 work 2day? Don't tell Facebook
The Parent Project: Identity Opportunity

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