Watching TV whilst browsing the internet has been around for as long as I have been using the internet.

It used to be because we needed something to do whilst waiting for slow dial-up connections to download content, but nowadays multi-tasking via a ‘second screen’ or ‘dual screen’ is part of our everyday routine.

We regularly find ourselves watching TV, browsing the internet, and updating social networks as the norm.

Neilsen found that 40% of smartphone owners in the UK use their phones at least once a day while watching TV and 41% of tablet owners do the same.

Over three quarters of people start watching TV shows after seeing positive tweets, and a recent study by Brandwatch found that viewers are on average 12x more likely to tweet about and 22x more likely to use a TV show’s official hashtag on broadcast day.

I even use Twitter as an alternative to checking the TV guide or catch up service to see what’s on or how a storyline has ended in an episode I have missed and don’t have time to catch up on.

So we’ve all been doing it for years, and…? It creates an opportunity for brands and advertisers.

On a very basic level, there are plenty of examples of TV broadcasters and advertisers really grasping the idea to maximise the buzz about their programmes. E4 saw one in four Made in Chelsea viewers tweeting during most episodes by displaying the official hashtag at the beginning of the programme, and Three’s #danceponydance hashtag helping to achieve almost 14k tweets in 5 hours on the day of launch for their latest TV ad.

On a more complex level, technology integrations such as Zeebox create a platform to watch and tweet about TV shows and celebrities within one environment – showing where the ‘buzz’ is and influencing others to watch a programme.

But there’s still plenty of room in getting it right.

2013 will be an exciting year for the adoption of the idea of second screens and how they they are changing our media consumption habits beyond recognition.

And if you’re still not convinced, here is a great infographic to highlight the opportunity.

Second screen infographic