Social networking increases Internet usage, according to a Marketing Evolution study commissioned by MySpace called "Never Ending Friending."

A copy of the study provided to eMarketer reveals that nearly a third of social network users ages 14-40 have increased their Internet usage, while 8% decreased usage. Usage remained the same for the rest of those surveyed.

Change due to Social Networking in Time Spent Using Select Media by US Social Networking Users, February-March 2007 (% of respondents)

Although increased time online does not usually cut into TV viewing, the study indicated that social networkers do spend less time watching television than non-social networkers — over two hours less every week.

Time Spent per Week Using Select Media by US Social Networking Users vs. Non-Social Networking Users, February-March 2007 (hours)

That extra time online is mainly spent at…social networks. MySpace is the top site in terms of percentage of time spent online, according to Compete, and Facebook is in the top 10 as well. In fact, 12% of all time online for US Internet users in December 2006 was spent at MySpace.

Top 20 Web Sites Visited by US Internet Users, Ranked by Percent of Total Time Spent Online*, December 2006

eMarketer senior analyst Debra Aho Williamson says that even though users are passionate about their social networking, that does not prove that the sites are always a worthwhile marketing channel.

"eMarketer remains bullish on the core benefits of online social networking — the ability for people to express and share their interests and connect with one another," Ms. Williamson says.

"But it is time for social networking sites to prove their worth to marketers. Not only must they drive users to participate, they must also show that social network marketing provides real results."

Via eMarketer