Canadians are spending more time online than users in 10 other countries, a new report has found.

The report, 2012 Canada Digital Future in Focus, by the internet marketing research company comScore, found Canadians spent an average of 45.3 hours on the internet in the fourth quarter of 2011, up from 43.5 hours during the same quarter a year earlier.

That’s more than internet users spent online in the fourth quarter of 2011 in the United States (38.6 hours), the U.K. (35.4) and South Korea (30 hours).

Some countries saw significant decreases in internet usage in the two time frames. In the fourth quarter of 2011, Italians’ internet usage dropped to 18 hours from 27.7 hours in the same period a year earlier. In India, usage dropped to 12.6 hours from 21.8 hours.

France added more than 15 hours to their internet time, at 27.5 hours during the last quarter of 2011, up from 11.9 hours a year earlier. U.K. internet users added nearly 10 hours to their online time, jumping to 35.4 hours from 25.8 hours a year earlier.

Canadians spend more time on social media

For Canadians, a chunk of that online time is spent on social media sites.

Facebook was the most-used social media site, at about 10,000 minutes (equivalent to nearly seven full days) in December 2011, compared to 8,000 minutes (or equivalent to 5.5 days) in the same period a year earlier. Average minutes spent on other sites in the fourth quarter of 2011, and their increase over the previous year's period, included:

  • Tumblr, with Canadians spending nearly 340 minutes on the site, almost four times the minutes logged the previous year.
  • Twitter, 110 minutes, a 98 per cent gain.
  • LinkedIn, 65 minutes, a 70 per cent gain.

The comScore study also suggests women spend more time on social networking sites, although men are catching up to them.

The average female web user spent an average of 8.8 hours on the sites in the fourth quarter, compared to 6.5 for men, a jump of 33 per cent and 39 per cent, respectively, over the previous year's period.

"Women have traditionally assumed more responsibility for — and done more of the work that goes into — maintaining social ties with family and friends — organizing that family dinner at grandma's on Sunday night or co-ordinating group vacations with friends," said Sara Grimes, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto and who teaches a course in social technologies and networks. 

"Since so many of these types of activities are now done through social media sites, it makes sense that it would result in more time spent on the sites," she said.

Youth social media use shows biggest gains

But the biggest gains in online use on social media sites were among young people 18 to 24 years old, at 10.8 hours in the fourth quarter of 2011, a 67 per cent rise over the same quarter a year earlier.

The second-highest social media users were the 18-and-under demographic, with 9.4 hours spent on the internet, a 59 per cent rise from a year earlier.

Netflix, the online subscriber-based movie-watching platform, had a 106 per cent increase in unique monthly visitors compared to last year's quarter.

On YouTube, the average viewer watched more videos in December 2011 than December 2010. Videos-per-visitor rose 170 per cent to 271 from 101.

(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)