The Internet finally seems to be as popular as TV, according to a study released yesterday by Forrester.
Based on a survey, the research firm's report found that people in the U.S. on average spend around 13 hours a week online, the same amount of time they spend watching TV.
As usual, the results vary by age. People ages 18 to 30 have been spending more time on the Internet than watching TV for awhile. But this marks the first Forrester study in which folks in the 32 to 44 group also are online more than they are in front of the TV.
The survey also found that people aren't spending any less time watching television; rather they're spending more time on the Net, up 121 percent since 2005. Instead, people are listening to the radio and reading newspapers and magazines much less, with those activities gradually falling in popularity each year over the past five years.
For the online generation, Internet access is becoming more ubiquitous. Almost 2 million new households will jump online by the end of this year, slightly lower than the 5 million new households that connected last year. But such a growth rate still means that 82 percent of families will have Internet access by 2015.
Broadband is on the rise as well, with 5.5 million new high-speed households expected this year, a surge that will see broadband connections available to more than 90 percent of connected homes.
What are people doing in cyberspace?
E-commerce is the top activity, according to Forrester, which found that 60 percent of the online users surveyed shop over the Internet, compared with just one-third in 2007. Social networking is next on the list. Contributing to a big jump in use since 2007, more than 62 million U.S. adults are now tapping into Facebook and other social networks.
More online users are also going the mobile route. Forrester discovered that one-quarter of online mobile device owners now hop onto the mobile Internet. On average, 16 percent of the mobile users polled check news, sports, and weather, while 13 percent look up directions and maps. But among people who access the mobile Internet at least once a week, those numbers shoot up to 60 percent and 52 percent, respectively.
A warning, however, that the study is already a bit out of date. It was based on Forrester's North American Technographics Benchmark Survey, which questioned 42,792 U.S. and Canadian households and individuals ages 18 and older in February and March of 2010.
According to Forrester, the survey is done by mail, so it takes awhile to compile, analyze, and put together. A shorter benchmark report based on the survey results was published in October. Forrester also notes that the data is collected at the same time each year, so the trend from one year to another stays consistent.