Americans Avoid Email to Play Games and Spend Time on Facebook

The average American spends almost a third of their time on the Internet playing games and using social networks, according to a new survey by Nielsen. Social networking sites and services take up the largest chunk of time, at about 23 percent of all time spent online, and that figure is up sharply from just 16 percent in June 2009. Online games account for the next largest block at 10 percent, up from 9 percent in the previous survey.

That’s great if you are Facebook or social-gaming giant Zynga, but if your business involves email or you happen to be a “portal” such as Yahoo or MSN, the Nielsen numbers don’t have a lot of good news for you: the survey shows that the amount of time Americans spend on email has dropped by almost a third, to 8 percent from over 11 percent last year, and time spent at portal sites fell by almost 20 percent compared to the previous year.

Nielsen broke down the stats into a graphic that shows what your time online would look like if all of the activity surveyed were squeezed into a single hour — social networks and blogs would account for almost 14 minutes of that hour, games would use up to 6 minutes and email 5 minutes. Portals, meanwhile, would account for just 2 minutes of the hour, almost exactly the same amount of time that users spend instant messaging.

Interestingly enough, the situation is reversed on mobiles. Email still takes up the majority of time spent, and would account for almost half of the hour, according to Nielsen’s survey. Social networks and blogs account for just 6 minutes of time spent on mobiles, and portals about 7 percent.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d): How the Next Zynga Could Reinvent Social Gaming