Social networks becoming ingrained in daily adult life

20 percent of Internet users reported visiting a social network in the past 30 days

The social networking phenomenon continues to take hold of Internet users as one in five adults worldwide say they have visited such sites, according to a study released last week.

In fact, 20 percent of Internet users reported visiting a social network like Facebook, MySpace or YouTube within the past 30 days, according to the "Face of the Web" report from market researcher Ipsos Insight.

The study found that a larger percentage of South Korean adults -- 49 percent -- have visited social networking sites than the share of adult populations in any other country.

Ipsos Insight, which surveyed more than 6,500 adults worldwide in late 2006, found that Brazil, China and Mexico, respectively, followed South Korea in the rankings, while the U.S. ranked fifth, with 24 percent reporting a visit to a social networking site at some point.

Brian Cruikshank, executive vice president and managing director of Ipsos Insight's technology and communications practice, said that social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook and Mixi have emerged as major forms of communication for adults globally.

"The frequency of visitation to social networking web sites globally implies that many Internet users are no longer simply 'trying out' these sites, but rather adopting social-networking as a significant part in their evolving digital lifestyle," he said in a statement.

"What will be interesting to monitor is the affect social networking will have on other online and offline entertainment behaviors that ultimately compete for a share of the consumer's disposable time," he added

The study also went on to note that participation in online video activities is growing quickly in many developed countries around the world. Growth in online video was most pronounced in the U.S., where more than one-third (36 percent) of adult Internet users said they have watched a television show or other video stream online, compared with 28 percent at the end of 2005.

More than 75 percent of these adults have watched online video within the past 30 days, the report continued.

"In markets such as the U.S., where homes are saturated with televisions and DVD players, video content is a predominant part of consumers' daily lives," Cruikshank added. "Increasing penetration of broadband access and PC ownership globally signals that the PC will begin to really assert itself as a 'second screen' within the household."

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Heather Havenstein

Computerworld

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