Britons who cannot live without the web spend almost as much time online as they do watching TV, new research has claimed.
Key findings from the Home.Net report released today by Orange Broadband suggest that the internet is now considered a "household essential ".
Nearly two thirds of homes could not live without it, and almost half spend three or more hours a day on the web compared to 3.8 hours watching TV.
The research into the habits of over 2,500 households shows that, rather than switching off when they get home, people are logging on.
Principal activities include shopping, surfing web 2.0 sites, paying bills, making phone calls and even watching TV over the internet.
The report into the UK's surfing habits also revealed regional variations as households use the internet to suit their lifestyle needs.
Surfers from the North East are described as 'Wheeler-Dealers' who spend more time buying and selling more goods via the web than anywhere else in the country.
So-called 'Lonely Londoners' are the country's most prolific social networkers, with over a third of people searching for love compared to a national average of 31 per cent.
Households in Scotland are the biggest users of the internet, over half spending more than three hours daily on the internet.
Asif Aziz, director of product management at Orange Broadband, said: "Ten years ago few of us had fast home internet access or used it regularly, particularly for entertainment.
"So it is amazing to see how it has evolved to be a pastime as popular as watching TV."
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