NEW YORK: Social networks and blogs now account for almost a quarter of the time US consumers spend online, new figures from Nielsen, the research firm, show.

Overall, social networks and blogs took 22.5% of internet usage time in May 2011, beating online games' 9.8%, email's 7.6%, portals' 4.5%, video and films' 4.4% and search's 4%, the company reported.

More specifically, US web users spent 53.5bn minutes on Facebook during the month, bettering Yahoo's 17.2bn minutes, Google's 12.5bn minutes, YouTube's 9.5bn minutes, eBay's 4.5bn minutes and Apple's 4.3bn minutes.

Facebook received 140m unique visitors in May, with 62% of page views on the site attributable to females, while 50m individuals accessed Blogger, and 23.6m went to Twitter.

Wordpress, a blogging provider, attracted 22.4m people, trailed by MySpace on 19.3m, LinkedIn with 17.8m, and Tumblr, another blog hosting platform, on 11.9m, and one of the fastest-growing properties.

A 53% majority of "active" social networkers currently follow a brand, a figure which falls to 32% for signing up as fans of celebrities in a similar way.

Turning to mobile, the number of members utilising social networks via this route rose 62% year on year, with 46.5m people visiting Facebook, 11.5m for Twitter, 6m regarding LinkedIn and 4m concerning MySpace.

In all, 97% of members access social networks on a computer, 37% employ mobile phones, 3% deploy a games console or iPad, and 2% leverage web-enabled TV sets and ereaders.

Some 30% of consumers valued being able to use social networks on their phone, ahead of downloading and playing music which logged 26%, the same rating as surfing the web, but behind GPS tools, on 56%.

A further 21% liked scanning barcodes with a handset, 20% cited making payments, 16% prioritised "check-in" services such as Foursquare and 13% enjoyed giving feedback to companies.

To date, 67% of smartphone owners had downloaded gaming apps, 65% selected equivalent weather-related tools, 60% utilised applications from social networks, and 55% used navigation and search facilities.

When it comes to watching video on social networks, 17.8m women engaged in this activity, versus 13.6m men, but males streamed 83m bits of content, decreasing to 74m items for their female counterparts.

Data sourced from Nielsen; additional content by Warc staff