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Using social networking platforms seem to have overtaken research as far as Filipino online habits are concerned.

According to the 3rd Net Index Study conducted by Yahoo! Inc., social networking (82%) is slightly ahead of research (80%) in the overall engagement of Filipinos on the Internet.

More, social networking is fast becoming the starting point for online experience (39%) as many Filipinos become aware and savvier in reconnecting with family and friends, enhancing existing relationships, and making new friends through online correspondences.

With the growing number of reports on hacking, however, netizens have become more selective and specific about choosing who they want to socialize with, says the study. This said, having the option to “unfriend” someone or report a “poser” is truly boon.

Music makes the world go round even in the virtual world. The 3rd Net Index study reveals that Filipinos go online for leisure and entertainment, particularly international music (68%) and local music (65%). They also turn to cyberspace to view photographs and videos (59%) and play games (55%).

Are email and chat still relevant? Yes, especially since 11% of the population live and work abroad. One-to-one communication platforms such as Yahoo’s Mail and Messenger are still being utilized 64% and 69% of the times, respectively.

Surprisingly, buying items online is still not as popular as in other countries “given the constraints around product authenticity and infrastructure.” According to the report, the level of comprehension of Filipinos for group buying is moderate (32%). However, among those who understand the concept of e-commerce, almost half (48%) show interest in getting stuff online.

The shift from shared to private access continues. Over the past two years, online browsing through Internet cafes declined from 71% to 66% while home Internet increased from 31% to 35% (thanks no doubt to the friendlier rates of domestic broadband connection).

Mobile Internet, which, in 2009, was virtually unheard of, is down to 4% from 5% in 2010. The research shows that 10-29 year old demographic remains the core audience group driving the Internet adoption in the Philippines.

Country Ambassador and Sales Director of Yahoo! Philippines Arlene Amarante underlines the importance of the study. “Net Index provides in-depth consumer insights that help marketers as well as Yahoo! to craft meaningful strategies, engage with consumers and drive real results,” she said.

The Yahoo! Net Index study was conducted in conjunction with market research group Nielsen.