For the first time, U.S. residents are devoting on average as much time to online activities as they are to watching TV, a new Forrester Research study has found.
The increased time people are spending online isn't cutting into the time they devote to watching TV, which has remained relatively stable in recent years at an average of 13 hours per week.
However, since 2005, U.S. households have increased their time spent online a whopping 121 percent, a trend powered in part by a rise in online activities among members of Generation X (ages 31-44) and younger Baby Boomers (ages 45-54).
"Where is all this available time coming from? Well, some is being drawn from the decreased use of print media, but increasingly people are finding new ways to incorporate the Internet into their daily lives at times where, before, media wasn't part of the picture. And of course, there's the issue of multitasking," wrote report author Jackie Rousseau-Anderson in a blog post on Monday.
From a technology perspective, other factors driving up time spent online include the continued adoption of broadband at home and the prevalence of mobile phones, both of which lead to increased Internet usage. For example, among Internet-connected households, 91 percent have broadband, while U.S. adults today are as likely to have a mobile phone as they are to have a PC.
The five most popular online activities among respondents are sending messages via e-mail, shopping, sharing photos via e-mail, visiting social networking sites and watching videos, according to the report, titled "Understanding The Changing Needs Of The US Online Consumer, 2010," for which Forrester polled about 30,000 U.S. residents in January and February of this year.