NEW YORK: Adult internet users in the US now spend 13 hours a week online, almost double the total posted in 1999, a survey by Harris Interactive has found.

The research firm polled 2,029 Americans, and estimated that the web audience in the country – including home, school and work and out-of-home access – stands at 184 million people.

More specifically, the number of private households with a connection to the net rose to 76% in 2009, up from 75% in 2008, 70% in 2006, and 66% in 2005.

Harris Interactive also stated that the amount of time respondents dedicated to viewing content on the web has increased from seven hours a week in 1999, and 11 hours a week in 2007.

Overall, however, this figure reached a peak of 14 hours per seven days at the height of the financial crisis before the election of Barack Obama as president.

Alongside rising penetration, some of the reasons for this positive trend were said to be the ability to watch more broadcast content via this medium, and a heightened uptake of eCommerce tools.

The economic downturn may also have contributed to this process, as “going online is free; going out usually costs money,” Harris Interactive suggested.

Within the average, usage levels varied greatly, with 20% of participants utilising the internet for two hours a week or less, while 14% did so for 24 hours or more in the same timeframe.

By age group, the 30-39 year old cohort exhibited the highest frequency of activity, at 18 hours a week, falling to 17 hours for both 25-29 year olds and 40-49 year olds.

In contrast, consumers over the age of 65 devoted just eight hours a week to this pastime, compared with 15 hours for 50-64 year olds, and 14 hours for 18-24 year olds.

Half of all netziens bought goods online in the month leading up to Christmas, climbing to 62% in the 30-39 year old demographic, and 56% for 40-49 year old shoppers.

Purchase rates were lowest among 18-24 year olds, at 35%, and over-65s, on 37%, with 25-29 year olds delivering a total of 41%.

Data sourced from Harris Interactive; additional content by Warc staff