The Top Ten Ways Workers Waste Time Online

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1. Social Networks – 1.24 hr/week
Social networking has come to dominate Internet use.  Facebook alone has more than 500 million unique visitors per month, representing 85% of all social media use.  According to the company’s site, users spend more than 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook. One would assume that some of those minutes have to be from work.  Nucleus Research, an IT research firm, found that 77% of employees who have access to Facebook from work check it at least once a day.  Of course, other large and fast-growing social media sites such as Twitter also contribute to the loss in productivity.

2. Online Games – 0.56 hr/week
The popularity of online games has increased and is now only second to social networking.  Employees visit gaming sites to play basic arcade games, online poker and Scrabble. However, part of the popularity of online games may be due to the growing usage of social networks.  Zynga, one of the most popular online game companies, owes much of its success to the fact that its games, including the huge hit Farmville, are promoted through Facebook.  According to the game’s Facebook page, Farmville has more than 62 million active users.

3. E-mail – 0.45 hr/week
Once the primary means of online communication, e-mail has become less popular, dropping from 11.5% of what people do online to 8.3% in the past year.  Social networking, once again, has begun to show its face, becoming a more popular way to keep in touch for many people. Of course, given how much American business relies on e-mail communication, dropping a personal e-mail during working hours will never go completely out of style.

4. Portals – 0.24 hr/week
Portals, which constitute 4.4% of users’ online time, underwent a double-digit decline in time share from one year ago.  Still, they are the fourth most heavily used online resource.  This means that people still rely heavily on sites such as AOL, Yahoo!, and MSNBC as their gateway to the Web. Given that so many people use e-mail accounts provided by one of these providers, it  suggests that this number has at least one reason to remain somewhat constant.

5. Instant Messaging – 0.22 hr/week
Instant Messaging is another activity that has likely decreased in popularity as a result of social networking. Sites that combine communication with other services naturally do better, even though simple messaging maintains some workers’ interest.  Another reason for the decrease may be the ubiquity of texting via cell phones.