Users now spend 23% of their online time on social networks

People are spending less time checking their e-mail, reading news and going to traditional online portals, but are spending a heck of a lot more time on Facebook and Twitter.

According to the latest numbers from Nielsen Internet research, in June, online users are now spending 23% of their Internet time on social networking sites. That’s an increase of seven percentage points over this time last year.

It was the single biggest jump for any of Nielsen’s online categories, which include time checking e-mail, using Web portals, and playing games.

The latter, online gaming, saw the second most noteworthy jump, as it now accounts for 10% of users’ online time and also links to social networking thanks to the rise of games like Farmville. At 10%, online gaming is now the second most popular thing to do online, a designation previously held by e-mail.

On that note, e-mail is now taking up less time for people online than ever before, only accounting for 8.3% of the average Internet user’s online activity.

“Portals,” such as landing pages on and now account for just 4.4% of Web users’ time.

Most of the other categories, like shopping online and random searching, remained relatively unchanged, though watching online videos went from 3.5% to 3.9% from June 2009 to June 2010.

The numbers make it clear that people are spending more time on Facebook than any other website, even Google. Even though users may visit Google more times in a given day, the amount of time they spend there is minimal compared to the dozens of minutes, or even hours, spent on one social networking session.

The race continues between social and traditional Web use, and there’s no slowing down that the former is becoming the new trend.