Americans Spend One Day per Week Online: Here’s Where Those Hours are Spent
The internet has become crucial to much of our everyday lives, from communications to entertainment. In the US, one of the world's largest markets for online spending and interactions, the amount of time spent with the internet continues to grow.
Worldwide, per capita, around 22.4 hours are spent each week on the internet in 2021. In the US alone, that number bumps up to 23.6 hours, according to a 2021 report from USC Annenberg. As for time spent online just at home, some 17.6 hours per week are gobbled up by the internet.
A major part of this has been the surge of smartphones over the last decade, with nearly 85 percent of Americans using the internet via mobile devices in 2021, compared to less than 23 percent in 2010. With such easy access, it also shouldn't come as a surprise that the Pew Research Center records that eight in ten American adults are online at least daily, with nearly one-third saying that they're online almost constantly.
The amount of time spent online is only expected to grow, especially with new industries breaking into the American internet space in recent years. So, where are these American hours being eaten up online?
A growing scene now opening a classic American past time
The internet is already a huge place, with the US granting its citizens almost unfettered access to the wealth of services and platforms available. However, one sector which the nation had been strangely steadfast against until recently was online gambling. In 2018, everything changed, and now states are licensing and regulating their own legal online casino gaming scenes.
In several states, you can now play blackjack, baccarat, roulette, craps, slots, video poker, and live games online, with reviewed and licensed legal betting sites presenting welcome offers like no-deposit bonuses to newcomers. Online betting has been a hit where states have legalised it, as has online casino gaming in New Jersey, West Virginia, Michigan, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, with more states joining the fold, opening up more scope for online entertainment in the US.
Technically being sociable over the internet
Social networking is nothing short of a global phenomenon, with the scene expanding vastly from text-based communications platforms to be about creating videos, gathering followers, and interacting with vast communities. In 2020, some 145 minutes per day was spent on social media sites worldwide, with the US surprisingly clocking in just under that average at 123 minutes per day.
Of course, the hub of social interactions online right now is Facebook. The platform that rocketed a promising concept deployed by the likes of MySpace and Bebo into the mainstream remains the number one in the US. Not too far behind in terms of monthly users, being short by around 45 million, is the image-based Instagram, while Twitter sits at just over 80 million US monthly users.
The cable cuts continue in favour of online-based services
According to the latest Nielsen research, the preferred way to spend an evening in many US households is to watch TV. However, with more smart TVs being sold and stronger internet connections going live, there's a distinct trend of ‘cable cutting,' which is being fuelled by online streaming platforms. In homes that have the capacity to stream to their TV, around 25 percent of TV time is spent watching streamed content.
Streaming saw an increase of 60.8 minutes per week among Americans, with the scene being dominated by one platform in particular. Netflix is the beast of streaming services, averaging some 46 million monthly users in the US alone. Hulu sits back with around 20 million fewer average monthly users and, even though it offers several other benefits like music and free delivery, Amazon Prime Video only averages under 17 million monthly users.
From stigmatised hobby to mainstream entertainment
For decades, video gaming – particularly violent or online-based games – were heavily stigmatised by the US media, but there's been a huge swing in how games are now perceived. Perhaps due to the overwhelming scientific evidence that proves gaming doesn't incite criminal behaviour, or maybe that gaming's popularity has become too lucrative to deny, more Americans than ever are now playing games online.
Classic games are known to be able to keep your mind sharp, and now video games are also seen to offer cognitive benefits, with the skill involved even crafting a professional sport: eSports. It's been found that over 40 percent of adult computer gamers in the US spend between one and five hours gaming. As for watching gaming content, over 40 million of Twitch's viewers are from the US, accounting for about one-quarter of the total user base that watches some five billion hours of content each quarter.
The United States will only continue to grow as a massive consumer of online-based products and services, with almost all of the sectors above expected to grow in US user count and user hours in the coming years.