LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Hardcore broadband users in Britain spend more time on virtual networking than they do on real life socializing, a survey revealed on Friday.
Some six percent of the 10,500 broadband users questioned in the survey, admitted spending on average more than 10 hours a week online social networking, the equivalent of 24 days a year.
This compared with the 22 days spent actually meeting friends and relatives.
Half of all broadband users log onto social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and MSN Messenger, the price comparison and switching service uSwitch.com found.
The average amount of time spent on virtual networking is nearly three hours a week, or six days a year.
It has overtaken online shopping, banking and downloading music as the most popular online activity. Only surfing the net and e-mailing is more popular.
Women use social networking sites more than men, 56 percent compared to 46 percent.
Nearly 75 percent of those visiting social networking sites are aged between 18 and 29 years.
The average Briton spends 15.8 hours a week online, the equivalent to 34 days a year.
Nearly eight million broadband customers pay between 15 pounds and 30 pounds a month for the service, with the average cost standing at 18 pounds.
Steve Weller, head of communications at uSwitch, said: ”We are not surprised to find that the average internet user is spending nearly a week socializing online. Consumers from all walks of life are embracing the trend.
“We’ve seen huge growth in this phenomenon over the last couple of years.”
The uSwitch findings were based on a survey of 10,513 adults in Britain carried out by YouGov in May.
This was compared to data from the National Statistics’ time use survey carried out in 2005.