Time Spent Online Doubles in a Decade, Study Says

Rhett Pardon

LONDON — People are spending twice as much time online compared to 10 years ago, according to new research.

The doubling of online time has been fueled by increasing use of tablets and smartphones, British communications regulator Ofcom said in a study released today.

Ofcom's “Media Use and Attitudes 2015” report, now in its 10th year, shows that Internet users aged 16 and above claimed to spend nearly 10 hours (9 hours and 54 minutes) online each week in 2005. By 2014 it had climbed to over 20 hours and 30 minutes.

The biggest increase in Internet use is cited among 16- to 24-year-olds, almost tripling from 10 hours and 24 minutes each week in 2005 to 27 hours and 36 minutes by the end of 2014.

The year 2014 saw the biggest increase in time spent online in a decade, with Internet users spending over three and a half hours longer online each week than they did in 2013 (20 hours and 30 minutes in 2014, compared to 16 hours and 54 minutes in 2013).

As a result, the amount of time people spent online while “out and about” — away from home, work or their place of study — has increased fivefold over the past 10 years, from 30 minutes in 2005 to nearly two and a half hours in 2014.

The use of social media has tripled since 2007, when Ofcom first asked people about their social media habits. Nearly three quarters of Internet users aged 16 and above say they have a social media profile, compared to just 22 percent in 2007.

Social media has seen the biggest growth among slightly older users, with 80 per cent of internet users in the 35- to 44-year-old age group now on social media, up from just 12 percent in 2007.

The year 2014 saw a dramatic surge in older people using social media, with nearly half (49 percent) of 55- to 64-year-olds who go online having a social media profile, up from one third (33 percent) in 2013.