Facebook, Farmville, etc. now consume a third of Web time

(Updated) New Nielsen survey data shows declining use of e-mail and Web portals.

There's news from Nielsen this morning that ought not surprise anyone but might concern some: The percentage of Web time spent on social networks such as Facebook increased by nearly half last year, jumping from 16% to 23% of online hours.

And if that's not enough to make you wonder how anyone's getting any work done, know that time spent on games such as Farmville now surpasses time spent on e-mail, according to Nielsen.

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From The Wall Street Journal:

The key takeaway here is that social networks and online games take up about a third of our Web time. That's up from last year, when the two categories combined to take up about 25 percent of our time.

And that's good news for Facebook and Farmville-maker Zynga, which dominate the two categories. It's neutral news for Google, since search's share has stayed consistent at about 3.5 percent, and it's bad news for Yahoo and AOL, since portal time has decreased by 19 percent.

The displacement of e-mail from the No. 2 spot on the list of most active Internet activities may say as much about changing communication patterns as it does the appeal of online games. From the San Jose Mercury News:

Strikingly, Nielsen's research also showed that Americans now spend more time playing games than handling e-mail - in part because tens of millions are staying in touch on Facebook rather than communicating on services such as Yahoo Mail or Google's Gmail.

"That's the logical conclusion," said David Martin, a Nielsen analyst. "A platform like Facebook incorporates e-mail and instant messaging. Social networks have incorporated those basic functions in a much larger system of communication, content management and even gaming. The growth has come at the expense of traditional portals, e-mail platforms and IM."

The increase in time spent on games rose 10% from 9.3% to 10.2, while the drop in time spent on e-mail was precipitous: 28% (from 11.5% to 8.3%).

YouTube and other video services were up 12% ... again, no surprise.

(Update: Mashable notes that e-mail use on mobile platforms is still increasing.)

(Update 2: And, in case you missed this related item over the weekend, Twitter has accounted for its 20 billionth tweet. A Japanese gentleman apparently had the honor.)

(Update 3: Inc. headline makes a good point: "What Privacy Concerns? People Spending More Time on Facebook."

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