Almost six out of 10 West Europeans now regularly access the Internet and, for the first time, young people are more likely to go online for most days of the week than turn on the television, according to a new survey.
Still, the Web is less and less the turf of the young: the past year saw a 12 percent jump in so-called 'silver surfers' — Europeans 55-and-older — using the Internet and an 8 percent rise in Internet use by women, said the survey by the European Interactive Advertising Association, a trade group of sellers of interactive media, released this week.
It said 16-to-24-year olds now prefer going online to watching the tube: 82 percent use the Internet between 5 and 7 days each week "while only 77 percent watch TV as regularly," a drop of 5 percent from 2006, the survey found.
It said 42 percent of users communicate via social networking sites at least once a month.
The number of people watching TV, film or video online at least once a month jumped 150 percent since 2006, said the survey.
More than 80 percent of those polled said they "couldn't live" without at least one Internet activity.
The survey was based on 7,008 random phone interviews in September in Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the three Scandinavian nations, Belgium and the Netherlands. It gave no margin of error.
The survey found that in the 10 nations, 169 million people now go "frequently online."
They spend "a lengthy 11.9 hours online each week and nearly a third are recognized as 'heavy Internet users as they spend an average of 16 hours or more online each week, representing more than 48 million people," said the survey.
It said 87 percent seek information online, followed by e-mailing (81 percent); social networking, (42), instant messaging (37), music downloading and listening to radio (both 31), watching TV, film or video (30); checking ratings and reviews (27), forums (26) and downloading film or video (20).
Eighty percent of West Europeans connect to the internet via a broadband connection, the survey said.
"Our Mediascope study shows consumers are using the internet for function and fun as their media world becomes truly digital," said Alison Fennah, the EIAA executive director.