Internet junkies


If you are reading this, you’re probably an addict.

There is no way to soft pedal it. There’s a new Nielsen study out, and it indicates the average American now spends more time looking at some sort of information viewing screen than working.

Television, despite an ever shrinking audience, remains dominant. It still accounts for more than half the more than eights hours per day the average American puts eyes on a screen, but the big growth markets for eyeballs are elsewhere.

Time spent on a tablet, according to Nielsen, has jumped 63 percent in the past year. Smart phone use is up 60 percent, multimedia devices, 44 percent, and even PCs, the use of which has been slowing as people move toward take-it-anywhere tablets at home, has continued to grow. It’s up 21 percent.

Adults now spend more than 18 hours per week surfing the net on some sort of electronic device and another two-plus hours per week watching video on one of these devices. We’re now spending half as much time searching for information and entertainment in the tubes as we are spending at work.

Looking at the trends, we’re on the way to becoming a nation of internet junkies if we’re not there already.

Eighty-one percent of Americans now own a smart phone, and those in the 18-24 age group are viewing something on that phone alone for more two hours per day. And that’s only part of the approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes per day they devote to surfing the net or viewing videos online.

They still spend an hour and seven minutes more time watching TV than looking at the phone, but consider this: Only a year ago the gap between TV viewing time and phone viewing time was almost 10 hours.

Yes, you read that right. In 2015, the 18-24 age group was spending 18:04 on TV and 10:08 on the phone. The phone is now up to 15:11 and TV is down to 16:18.

Just as a reference point, the time Americans now spend reading a newspaper is down to 15 minutes per day or about an hour and 45 minutes per week. There has been a 40 percent decline in time spent reading newspapers in just last seven years.

The average American, which includes all age groups, now spends more time reading stuff on a smart phone in a day than he or she sends on a newspaper in a week. Americans have clearly shifted their reading elsewhere, as the Nielsen study reflects.

Overall viewing trends aren’t much different from ages 18-49. All that varies is the electronic device. Those in the 25 to 34 and 35 to 49 age groups spend less time looking at their smart phones than the younger age group, but spend more time on their PCs, a probable reflection of the technology with which they grew up.

“Changing consumer behavior is being driven by growth of technologies and services,” Nielsen concluded.


It should come as no surprise that people gravitate toward whatever technology makes news, information and entertainment easier to obtain. The process has been going on ever since papyrus replaced the stone tablet.