The average Internet user is now spending 13 hours online per week. And chances are 50/50 they bought something online this past week, too.
The average time spent online increased from 7 hours in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002, to between 8 and 9 hours in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. In 2007, it jumped to 11 hours. Last year (in October after the financial crisis broke and before the presidential election) Internet users were online for 14 hours a week, double the tally from earlier years. These and other findings come from a recent Harris Poll.
These findings are significant because the size of the U.S. online population hasn't budged much recently. It's holding steady at 184 million users -- no change from last year at all. So what these results reveal is that in an era of saturation insofar as online access is concerned, users are growing more reliant upon and attached to the World Wide Web.
Harris also chalks it up to the global recessions, "It probably reflects a growing ability to use the Internet, an increase in sites and applications, increased TV watching online and increased purchasing online. Also, hours online may have increased because of the recession. Going online is free; going out usually costs money."
Who's spending the most time online? Unsurprisingly, younger adults -- but not the youngest, and not by much. People aged 30-39 clocked an average 18 hours, while those aged 25-29 surfed 17 hours, the same amount of time as 40-49 year-olds.