- PALO ALTO, Calif.
(Reuters) - As Americans spend more time on the Internet they are not only
seeing less of their friends and families, but also spending less time
stuck in traffic, shopping in malls and watching television.
- A new study on the Internet's impact on society released
Wednesday reached the conclusion that the more time people spent online,
the less time they spent with real people. But it also revealed some possible
benefits, including a reduction in the time spent on some of life's other
drudgeries and mindless activities.
- Despite these trends, the study, by the Stanford Institute
for the Quantitative Study of Society at Stanford University, found that
the majority of people who use the Internet still have not seen a significant
change in the way they spend their time. About two-thirds of the Internet
users surveyed said they spent less than five hours a week online.
- But as Stanford Professor Norman Nie noted, the percentage
of heavy Internet users is growing, and will likely increase as a portion
of the overall population as the Internet continues to reach new households.
- ``The Internet could be the ultimate isolating technology
that further reduces our participation in communities even more than television
did before it,'' said Nie, who was the chief investigator in the study.
- Another key finding of the study was that the more years
people have been using the Internet, the more hours they tend to spend
online. In addition, sixty percent of regular Internet users say the Internet
has reduced their TV viewing, and one-third spend less time reading newspapers.
- One activity that tends to increase with increased Internet
use is work. While a small fraction -- about four percent -- of those surveyed
-- said they cut back their hours at the office after gaining Internet
access, 16 percent said they were working more hours at home without cutting
back at the office. Another eight percent reported increases in time spent
working at home and at the office.
- Several Internet companies were quick to issue their
interpretation of the study, and point out that by shopping and planning
trips online, people should actually have more time to spend with other
- The online shopping site <http://Brodia.comBrodia.com
even offered some tips on making Internet surfing a less isolated activity.
- ``It may boil down to where your computer lives in your
home,'' Brodia said in a statement, advising people to place their computers
``in a communal room or high traffic area.''
- Doing so, it said, would help ``create an environment
where family may flourish in all the same ways it did when everyone ate
dinner or watched TV together.''
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