UK is a nation of social networking obsessives

UK adults spend more time on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace than their European neighbours, with as many as one in four adults saying they regularly log on to the sites, according to an Ofcom report.

The UK adults who visit the sites spend an average of 5.3 hours each month on them and return to them an average of 23 times a month.

The analysis is matched by the investment made by advertisers in the UK, where companies spend more money per person on internet advertising than any other country. The UK currently spends £33 per person, twice as much as France, Germany and Italy combined.

The finding is one of many that shows the UK is ahead of its European counterparts in terms of the latest digital trends.

The report compares the UK with eight European countries as well as Japan, Canada and the US. It was carried out to help determine future policies, provide information to the UK advertising and media industry, and assess where the UK market stands on a global scale.

Ofcom has also researched how internet audiences around the world are broken down by gender. Across all the countries studied the divide is 52% women to 48% men.

In the UK, the split is 50-50, except in the 18-34 age group, where far more women are surfing the net.

Ofcom has suggested this pattern is related to the increasing popularity of social networking sites.

Other findings revealed that Europeans watch less TV than the Americans and Japanese. In the UK, the average is 25.2 hours a week, or 3.5 hours a day. That is less than Italy and Spain but more than Germany and Ireland.

People in the UK also listen to more radio than in any of the other eleven countries surveyed, while the medium is least popular in Japan.

Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive said: "The report shows that convergence, bundling and the move to digital communications is a powerful global phenomenon.

"It's important to understand international comparisons so Ofcom can develop better policies to serve the interests of consumers and citizens in the UK."

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