Sites including Facebook and Twitter are a procrastinator’s dream, but new research has revealed the true extent of how these sites directly affect our lives.
Research conducted by the Technology Policy Institute in Washington has found that every hour spent online equates to, on average, 16 fewer minutes working.
The sites also affect our sleep – we lose seven minutes sleeping for each hour online; spend 17 minutes less outside in the real world and miss out on a staggering 18 days seeing friends.
For his paper, What we are not doing when we’re online, economist and researcher from the institute, Scott Wallsten studied eight years of government data about Americans online from 2003 to 2011.
The act of replacing real-world time with online time is referred to by Wallsten as ‘crowding out.’
Each minute of time spent online, according to Wallsten, directly correlates with 0.27 fewer minutes working, which over an hour equates to 16.2 minutes.
Over the course of a day, this adds up to 388.8 minutes, or around six and a half hours, which over a year means employers lose around 8 days a month.
Wallsten said: ‘This research is a small step forward in understanding the economic effects of the Internet.
‘The data clearly show that time spent and the share of the population engaged in online leisure is increasing.
‘The analyses suggest that new online activities come at least partly at the expense of less time doing other activities.’