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Social networking on desktops may have peaked in 2012, Experian finds

There has been a noticeable drop-off in time spent with desktop social services in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia, according to Experian.

personal computng
Allison Joyce/Getty Images

Perhaps there is such a thing as too much Facebook.

In 2012, U.S. consumers on personal computers spent about 27 percent of their Internet time with social networking sites and forums, or 16 minutes for every hour, according to data from Experian Marketing Services.

Though that's an alarming finding for some, the figure, which doesn't reflect mobile browsing, is actually down 3 percentage points from the previous year. In 2011, social networking in the U.S. peaked at 30 percent of all time spent online, according to Experian.

Experian reveals that if the time spent on the Internet on personal computers was distilled into an hour, then 27 percent of it -- 16 minutes -- would be spent on social networking and forums across the U.S., the U.K., and Australia in 2012. Experian Marketing Services

U.S. consumers are not alone in their adjusted ways. The time spent on social media proportionate to other activities also declined in the U.K. and Australia, Experian found. In Australia, online social time dipped from 27 percent to 24 percent year-over-year. In the U.K., social dropped off from 25 percent to 22 percent during the one-year period. Consumers seemed to fill the void by spending more time shopping and reading news, two categories that grew in terms of time spent online in 2012 across all three markets.

In the age of social apps, Experian's findings seem a bit perplexing. Are we expanding our horizons a tad more? Or maybe our favorite social services are just pointing us to more news and shopping sites, which, if true, would be a juicy development for e-commerce companies and marketers. Either way, it's important to keep in mind that this particular data set is specific to personal computers and does not reflect social-networking trends on mobile.

When it comes to mobile, consumers in the U.S. spent about 15 percent of their time using social applications during the first quarter of 2013. The only thing more popular than this category of connection apps, according to Experience, was e-mail, which accounted for 23 percent of time spent on mobile during the quarter.