Thirty-six percent of web users want to access social networking and instant messaging functions through their TV, says ABI Research.

"Just as video entertainment is moving fluidly across various screens, so is social media," says senior analyst Jason Blackwell.

The research company also revealed that how social media would be used differed between age groups. Younger web users want to chat and interact with their friends, while those slightly older wanted to check status updates on social networking sites such as Facebook and even see what their friends were watching on TV.

"Today we already see tens of millions of consumers engaging in communities in the living room through online console gaming services," adds Blackwell. "Just as this interest community has seen rapid growth in the past few years, we expect the extension of Web 2.0 technologies to the living room to propel growth in new communities of interest."

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Web users may not have long to wait before social networking through a TV becomes reality. At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, which took place in Las Vegas last month, Intel demonstrated a TV that runs run 'widgets' or mini-applications. These widgets connect to the web and let users chat in real time. They could also be used to complement TV viewing, by offering extra information on the show being broadcast.

See also: Yahoo & Intel help enable MySpace TV