Australian internet users clock up over 3 hours per day online

  • Smartphones providing a big boost
  • More areas getting ADSL2+
  • Two-Screening as a new phenomenon

In 2009 Australian internet users spent an average of 17 hours and 36 minutes per week online, but the record was again surpassed with users in 2010 being online for 21 hours and 42 minutes. This is another sign the internet has become our main media source, although results also show it didn’t come at the expense of other media.

The recent Nielsen Australian Online Consumer Report showed massive growth in internet activity, yet it also showed consumers had increased their use of other media like TV, radio, newspapers, video gaming and magazines. 5,800 Australians aged 16 and over were surveyed in December 2009.

The Nielsen survey has been conducted for 11 years, and the 2009 to 2010 internet usage increase has been the largest in its history. Australians are now using the internet three times as much as they did in 2000, when we only browsed the web for around 6 hours and 30 minutes a week.

Co-author of the Nielsen report, Lillian Zrim said about the results: "In the last half of the decade there's been a massive jump in terms of time spent. Getting to almost 22 hours is a phenomenal amount of time,” she said, “That would be quite high … usage compared to other countries."

The main reason for increased internet usage amongst the survey group was a higher take-up of household ADSL and ADSL2+ connections, as well as a surge in internet-enabled mobile handsets and tablet computers. These mobile devices allow people to get online more often and in more locations.

Smartphone market penetration is tipped to increase from 35% to 50% of Australians by the end of 2010, and tablets like the Apple iPad 2 are becoming more popular everyday. This means our internet usage habits should grow even more, although probably not as high a jump as over the previous year.

Using the internet and another media source at the same time:

Respondents who accessed more than one media source simultaneously grew from 69% in 2009 to 77% in 2010, with the main type of double-media usage being those who browse the internet and watch TV together. Deemed “two-screening”, 60% of people surveyed participated in the act, up 11% from 59% in 2009. 40% of internet users also professed to listening to radio while surfing the web.

Interestingly, 69% of all “two-screeners” admitted to searching online content related to TV shows or ads they had just witnessed, an increase of 10% over the previous year. Ms Zrim had this to say about the finding: "People aren't doing that all the time, but there is an increasing number of people doing (it) … If they're stimulated by content they're seeing on one screen and are able to follow that up immediately it presents a good opportunity for advertisers and marketers."

When two-screeners were asked which communication medium attracted more of their attention, 65% said the internet took a larger portion of their focus, whereas only 14% said television. Around 20% said their attention was spread-out evenly between the two. People accessed the web via a mixture of desktop PCs, laptops, mobile phones and tablet computers.

People still watch television on their TV set, but the internet has also brought a wave of TV watchers doing their viewing online. 69% of surveyed users said they watched TV on their PC, 62% on their laptop, 21% on their mobile phones and 11% on tablets like the Apple iPad.

Most importantly, more people than ever said the internet was their main place to go for news, information, opinions, and entertainment content.