21 November 2008

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A TNS global survey entitled Digital World, Digital Life, probing online behaviours and perspectives shows that, on average, people across the 16 countries surveyed are spending close to a third (30%) of their leisure time online.
A TNS global survey entitled Digital World, Digital Life, probing online behaviours and perspectives shows that, on average, people across the 16 countries surveyed are spending close to a third (30%) of their leisure time online.{reg}

It appears we like our 30% digital time regardless of how much free time we have. Digital World, Digital Life found that respondents with up to 2 hours leisure time each week day, spent the same proportion of their leisure time online as respondents who had between 7 and 8 hours of leisure time on a week day. This means there is no direct link between the amount of leisure time we have and how much of it we spend online.

What are the top 5 activities that people undertake while online? TNS asked people to identify a range of activities in the month before they took the survey. A total of 81% had used a search engine to find information; 76% had looked up the news; 74% had used online banking; 65% had looked up the weather; and 63% had researched a product or service before buying it. These activities are all inherently very practical. The highest ranking classic leisure activity – “watching a video clip” – only came in at number 8, with half (51%) saying they had done this in the past month. Another leisure activity – “listening to an audio clip” – came in at number 10 (44%).

Arno Hummerston, Managing Director, TNS Global Interactive, said: “If our leisure time is so precious, then why do we on average spend almost a third of it using the internet? We believe it is because we are making more efficient use of our valuable time, specifically by using the internet – thereby allowing us to fit more into our lives. Being online helps people fulfill certain tasks and activities quickly and efficiently. By spending productive time online, we are actually making more time for leisure. With more social and entertainment activities available online, it is also easy to understand why our lives are becoming more digital.”

Who and where are the most avid onliners in the world? Younger people under 25, as might be expected, are seriously engaged with online life. The under 25s surveyed in the report say they spend well over a third (36%) of their time online. On average, Chinese respondents under 25 spend half (50%) of their leisure time online.

If the world is to take its lead from Japan and Korea – countries that are seen as being innovative and pioneering in the online world – then we can expect to spend even more time online. In those countries, respondents say they currently spend on average around two-fifths of their leisure time online.

There are particular groups of people that are more avid users of the internet than others. For example, across the 16 countries surveyed, students spend 39% of their time online. Housewives are another distinct group of online users. In the US, the housewives participating in Digital World, Digital Life, said they spend 38% of their leisure time online. In the UK, this was even more pronounced with housewives saying they spend almost half (47%) of their leisure time online. This might be explained by the rapid expansion of online food shopping, particularly in the UK where online shopping expenditure in general now tops £1 billion per month (Source: Mintel 2008).

The Digital World, Digital Life survey also underlined that mobile handsets are frequently used to connect to the internet. Worldwide, 1 in 10 respondents surveyed say they connect to the internet once a day via mobile handsets. But Asia’s adoption trends imply significant growth prospects. Among the Japanese and Chinese respondents to the survey, for example, over a quarter of people access the internet over mobile connections at this once-a-day frequency.{/reg}
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