Singaporeans spend the most time on Facebook per session

Xavier Lur

A new study by Experian Hitwise examining how much time people living in different countries spend on Facebook revealed that Singaporeans spend the longest on the social network site.

The average time spent on Facebook by Singaporeans in August 2011 was 38 minutes and 46 seconds, ahead of the United States at 20 minutes and 46 seconds. Brazilians, on the other hand, spend less than half that with an average of 18 minutes and 19 seconds per Facebook session.

The results did not come that surprising, but was more of a worry, as increased usage might result in a rise of attention deficient young people.

A leading neuroscientist in the United Kingdom claimed that social network sites risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind, leaving it characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity.

Furthermore, distractions, especially addictive real-time interactions in the social networking sphere, are potentially disruptive and might affect our productivity.

Recent studies have shown that social network sites are chewing up too much of corporate employees' time, with more than half of office employees surfing the site for personal use during the working day.

In the United Kingdom, Facebook and Twitter are costing the British economy up to £14 billion (S$28.6 billion) a year in lost working time, according to a study by MyJobGroup.

Regardless of the myriad negative consequences social network sites bring about, the amount of time spent on Facebook per session by Singaporeans is set to surge, attributed by the ever-increasing smartphone adoption rate here and Facebook's new features, which are designed to make users spend more time on the site.

However, this is good news to brands, as content and advertising which is compelling will ultimately lead to greater engagement in social networks and consequently greater sales.

According to social analytics tool, Singapore has one of the the highest Facebook penetration rates in the world at 55.09 percent with over 2.59 million users and adding about 32,400 new members every month.

The figure is higher than that in the United States and United Kingdom, which stand at 50.2 percent and 48.66 percent respectively. Only Hong Kong comes close to Singapore with a penetration rate of 54.02 percent.

Facebook is currently the dominant social networking site in Singapore. Web traffic and ranking tool Alexa lists it the most popular website in Singapore, followed by Google, and then YouTube.

In May 2008, Friendster was still the most popular social network in Singapore with 907,000 monthly unique visitors as compared to Facebook at 533,000, according to comScore.

Friendster was almost two times bigger than Facebook at that time, but before long, a stunning and rapid fall from grace meant it was soon overtaken by Facebook. Many made the transition when online games started to gain traction on Facebook.