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Nielsen survey: Social media sucking up most of our time

Market research firm Nielsen says that Americans are using social media longer and on more devices than ever before.

Americans, you are spending every waking minute of your life online--or at least a sizable portion of your days.

According to Nielsen's 2012 Social Media Report released this week, Americans spent 121 billion minutes on social networking sites between July 2011 and July 2012, up from 88 billion the previous year. Apps captured a large portion of those minutes, accounting for a third of overall social networking time.

The percentage of time Americans spent on social networking sites rose 37 percent to 121 billion minutes in the last year.

Facebook topped the list of most-visited social networks, as expected, but time spent on Pinterest's website increased by more than 1000 percent year-over-year. Google+, Tumblr, and Twitter are also growing in popularity (and sucking away more of your time).

Apparently, spending all this time socializing online makes us feel really good about life. Nielsen reports that 76 percent of users have positive feelings after checking in on social networking sites. (Another fun fact: a third of 18- to 34-year-olds are on social media sites while using the bathroom. Way to multitask, everyone.)

During June 2012, a third of active Twitter users tweeted about TV-related content.

So, what exactly are we talking about when we're Facebooking, tweeting, Tumbling, and pinning? A lot of our conversations revolve around what we're watching on TV and trouble we're having with companies. Data on the "second screen" phenomenon--using your smartphone or tablet while watching TV--is solidifying. Nielsen reports that 44 percent of American tablet owners and 38 percent of smartphone users have their devices in hand while watching TV. Almost half of those surveyed by Nielsen said they used social media to reach out to companies' customer service arms.

Not surprisingly, mobile Web and smartphone apps are driving the increase in our online time, by 82 percent and 85 percent, respectively. Now that we carry our computers around with us wherever we go, tweeting or checking Facebook to pass the time has replaced reading a book or people-watching (unless you're tweeting about the people you watch).

Social media traffic on PCs has dropped 5 percent in the last year, though time spent on social sites has increased 24 percent, Nielsen says. We may be turning to our phones for Web-surfing, but when we do use PCs, we're on them for increasingly longer periods of time.

Now put down that phone for a bit and go outside.


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