Internet use outstrips TV viewing for the first time

Surfing the internet has overtaken watching television as the UK's favourite activity, with two thirds of users found to have increased their time online over the past year, according to new research.

The average internet user now spends an average of 41 days online each year, the equivalent of 164 minutes a day, compared with 37 days each year or 148 minutes each day spent watching TV, research conducted by TNS and commissioned by Google has shown.

This follows reports last September that most people spent a third of their day using two or more media at the same time.

The biggest growth of use was seen among 16- to 24-year-olds, while men are still found to be the highest internet users with an average of 172 minutes a day compared with 156 minutes for women.

Shopping has become one of the most popular online activities, with internet users now spending an average of £446 each online a year.

Kate Burns, head of advertising sales at Google, said: "People have an insatiable thirst for information. The internet is one of the fastest and easiest ways to access and share that information. This is a great opportunity for British business.

"Technology now even allows businesses to target specific regions, cities and even postcodes."

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