Social Networking May Be More Popular Than Porn

CYBERSPACE — Visits to adult entertainment websites have down-turned dramatically over the past few years, especially visits from the key 18- to 24-year-old demographic, according to reports.

Writing for Time.com, Hitwise general manager of global research Bill Tancer claims that social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace have surpassed adult entertainment sites as the most-visited by young people on the Internet.

Web analytic company Hitwise, which tracks traffic and trends for 172 categories of websites, shows that 18- to 24-year-olds visit social networking sites most frequently, and that these younger consumers also tend to visit search engines and web-based email sites more often than adult sites.

Surfers 25 and older still find adult sites quite popular, visiting them second only to search engines. However, U.S.-based traffic to adult sites has dropped by a third over the past two years, falling from 16.9 percent in October 2005 to 11.9 percent in 2007.

“If you chart the rate of visits to social-networking sites against those to adult sites over the last two years, there appears to be a strong negative correlation (i.e., visits to social networks go up as visits to adult sites go down),” Tancer said. “They're too busy chatting with friends to look at online skin.”

Beyond their shifting patterns of adult entertainment consumption, it appears younger consumers are increasingly turning to social networking sites as a replacement for other forms of interpersonal communication, such as email and instant messaging.

“When you can reach all of your friends through Facebook or MySpace, there's little reason to spend time in your old-school inbox,” Tancer said.

For a more detailed look at the surfing habits of 18- to 24-year-olds, Hitwise monitored visits to downstream sites accessible through the social networking sites and found that after users logged-in they visited other social networking sites the most; with 11.6 percent going on to search engines; 8.5 percent visiting web-based email sites; 6.1 percent going on to blogs and only 1.5 percent visiting traditional news sites.

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