The amount of time Australians spend on social media sites is declining, according to new research involving three million internet users.
Interest in sites like Facebook and Twitter grew rapidly in Australia from 2010.
But new data shows time spent on these sites via fixed-line internet connections fell in 2012, with average users now spending 14 minutes out of every hour online using social networks, compared to 16 minutes per hour in 2011.
Similar falls were recorded in the US and UK, according to broader research by information services firm Experian, involving another 22 million internet subscribers.
‘The online landscape is constantly changing and it could be that we’re starting to see social networking sites reaching their peak,’ said Experian manager Matt Glasner.
The impact that surging smartphone and tablet use had on these figures is unclear.
Data published by Telstra in February showed that half of all Australians now own a smartphone, with many spending up to 12 hours per week accessing the internet using mobile devices.
But Experian and other researchers suggest most visits to social sites on phones and tablets are relatively quick.
David Cowling, owner of the Sydney-based Vivid Social agency, agreed that time spent on social media sites via desktop computers was decreasing and suggested overall numbers using the sites via all devices were static.
‘I wouldn’t say this comes down to a disinterest in social media, rather that we are becoming more efficient with our use,’ he told AAP.
Dr John Lenarcic, a leading IT academic at Melbourne’s RMIT University, said the efficient use theory was plausible as social sites became easier to use.
He added, ‘The decline could also be that users don’t refer to social networking’ as a special category.
‘It’s become a mundane part of communication, so some may not even consider what they do as social networking’ but just another way of meeting up with friends.’
Australian Communications and Media Authority figures published in late 2012 showed there were 11.36 million Facebook users in Australia.
The number of Australian Twitter users is unclear but Mr Cowling suggested in March it was 2.16 million, a slight decrease compared to February.
Story source: www.bigpond.com