A new study from Forrester reveals that people are spending less time using the Internet than they have in the past couple of years. In a survey of 58,000 US adults, respondents claimed to spend approximately 19.6 hours using the Internet during a typical week. That’s down from 21.9 hours last year and 20.6 hours in 2010. 

It’s the first time Forrester has noted a drop in Internet usage since they started asking the question way back in 1997. Surely the statisticians must have made a mistake, right?

No, but there is more here than meets the eye. In short, people are actually online more than ever but they don’t perceive it to be time spent using the Internet.

Analysts at Forrester suggest that “being online” is becoming a fluid concept in today’s society. They say that consumers no longer consider some online activities as related to using the Internet. It’s become such a normal aspect of life that many don’t even realize they’re using the Internet. It’s not until people perform tasks like searching that they consider themselves as being online.

Case in point is the fact that an increasing number of Americans are “always online” through mobile phones or tablets. Tasks like checking Facebook, using Google Maps, listening to streaming music and watching videos on Netflix or Hulu Plus don’t even register as Internet-based activities.

What do you think? Do you feel like you are spending less time on the Internet due to the fact that smartphones and tablets keep you “connected” at all times?