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How Much Time Do Americans Spend On Facebook?

Jul 25, 14 How Much Time Do Americans Spend On Facebook?

It is a question that has been answered by statements this week from Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s Quarter 2 earnings: How long does the average American spend on Facebook per day?

The answer is 40 minutes, a figure that I actually found to be surprisingly low. If I had to guess, I would have said about two hours, but wouldn’t have been completely blown away to read that it was more. Then again, this is an average, and we have to remember that many people will still use Facebook responsibly. Those people who use little or no Facebook most days and just pop on to check messages now and then will offset the people who post photos of every meal they eat, or are lucky enough to work in an office where their computer screen faces away from everyone.

The extent to which the figure of 40 minutes is surprising may change when other everyday activities are compared. It is more than the vast majority of people can manage on exercise, for example. It accounts for one in five of the minutes spent on mobile by US users each day, according to TechCrunch. Business Week helpfully took some figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey in order to inform us that people on average spend more time on Facebook per day than they do on household and personal email (33 minutes), household and personal snail mail (17 minutes) — which presumably is taking care of paper utility bills and bank statements etc., rather than penning letters to lovers with a big quill, sadly — and taking care of pets (39 minutes).

In fairness, the basis for the “taking care of pets” measurement is not clear, and although at first notable because it sounds like we spend more time dicking about on Facebook than caring for those close to us, even if they are animals, actually when one thinks about it one might wonder how long it should take to “take care of pets.” I would expect the average dog walk to last about 30 minutes, although I am not a dog owner so I am guessing. As a cat owner, I would estimate that plonking their food into a bowl takes about four minutes a day, and am confident that cats don’t need much more care than that. I suppose stroking may count as care, but that can vary in length from 10 minutes to six hours per day, and can be conducted while on Facebook, so I don’t think the cats are missing out. Indeed, they often benefit from Facebook fame.

Business Week pointed out that Facebook users now account for 40 percent of the population of the US, which is higher than the percentage who buy consumer goods each day (39 percent), travel to work each day (35 percent) or do housework each day (34 percent). Facebook also “exceeded expectations in terms of revenue ($2.91 billion) and the size of its user base (1.32 billion monthly active users).” But Zuckerberg still wants more, and is quoted on TechCrunch as saying, “overall people in the US spend nine hours per day engaging with digital media with TV, phones and computers,” stating that this was a “Big opportunity to improve the way people can share.” That sounds like he means an opportunity for Facebook to get people using its interactive service more than they do now, when compared with the five hours people currently spend watching TV, for example. There may be a few people making noises about ditching Facebook, but the expectation must surely be that those 40 minutes will only increase in future.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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John is a freelance writer from the UK, currently living in Japan and thoroughly enjoying their food and whiskey. His first novel, Three Little Boys, is currently available on Amazon.com.
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