INTERNET INTEREST DIPS

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Has the novelty of the World Wide Web finally worn off? Perhaps. According to a report released in March by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Internet & American Life Project, a division of the Pew Research Center, Americans are spending slightly less time online these days than they did in the recent past. Specifically, the average Internet session lasted 83 minutes in 2001, compared with 90 minutes in 2000. The center's experts attribute the decrease to the fact that Internet users have become more efficient and goal-oriented when they surf online and no longer spend so much time browsing as they did when the Web was relatively new. Still, an 83-minute stretch is a decent chunk of time to spend in front of a monitor. So what activities are people sacrificing to devote more time to virtual deeds? Pew reports that 25 percent of Internet users say their online use comes at the expense of TV time, and 18 percent say they now spend less time shopping in stores. Fortunately, only 2 percent of the online population says they spend less time attending social events. In fact, 5 percent say they actually spend more time at social functions since becoming Web-enabled.

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Despite the fact that they spend less time than in the past per online session, Web users are busier than ever buying products, reading e-mail and listening to music via the Internet.

PERCENT OF INTERNET USERS WHO HAVE EVER PARTICIPATED IN THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES ONLINE: 2000 2001
Bought products 47% 53%
Bought travel services 34% 42%
Bought or sold stocks 12% 12%
Listened to/viewed audio/video clips 47% 51%
Researched information on hobbies 76% 78%
Read news 61% 59%
Accessed a government site 50% 55%
Researched religious information 21% 25%
Used e-mail 89% 92%
Used instant messaging 42% 44%
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, March 2001
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