More than half of UK web surfers will lose three years of their life scouring the web without finding what they're looking for, a new AOL survey shows.

On average, Britons spend around four hours online every day, the AOL study found. But much of that is wasted, with 55 per cent saying at least a quarter of their time online is spent searching in vain.

This amounts to an average of 15 days a year lost in cyberspace per individual - or three years in an entire lifetime. That's almost as much time as we spend queuing (4.5 years), and is longer every year than the average family summer holiday (14 days).

Somewhat surprisingly, it's younger web surfers who waste the most time lost online. Some 83 per cent of those polled aged 25 to 34 admitted they were 'web wanderers', regularly getting lost online. For those aged 55 and over, the figure fell to 77 per cent.

Net aware

"It's surprising that although Britons are increasingly net aware, we are still spending too much time tangled in the world wide web," said Michael Steckler, managing director of AOL UK.

A third of Britons (35 per cent) blamed too much information on the web for causing their confusion. A further 68 per cent said they don't trust the information they get online, so they keep on searching fruitlessly for material they might consider trustworthy.

Almost half of the 1,037 people polled (47 per cent) said they generally found surfing the web 'extremely frustrating'.

Most Britons generally use the web to find information, for shopping, social networking, video and picture sharing, and music downloading.

"Britons are able to take advantage of many new tools to surf smarter and spend less time lost in cyberspace. For example, Truveo is a free video search tool which scans the entire web for your desired videos - but only a fraction of internet users know this kind of service exists to help them. Internet searching should be a pleasure, not a chore," Steckler added.