[Paleopsych] NYT: Internet Use Said to Cut Into TV Viewing and Socializing
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Fri Jan 28 16:29:03 UTC 2005
Internet Use Said to Cut Into TV Viewing and Socializing
NYT December 30, 2004
By JOHN MARKOFF
SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 29 - The average Internet user in the
United States spends three hours a day online, with much of
that time devoted to work and more than half of it to
communications, according to a survey conducted by a group
of political scientists.
The survey found that use of the Internet has displaced
television watching and a range of other activities.
Internet users watch television for one hour and 42 minutes
a day, compared with the national average of two hours,
said Norman H. Nie, director of the Stanford Institute for
the Quantitative Study of Society, a research group that
has been exploring the social consequences of the Internet.
"People don't understand that time is hydraulic," he said,
meaning that time spent on the Internet is time taken away
from other activities.
A 2000 study by the researchers that reported increasing
physical isolation among Internet users created a
controversy and drew angry complaints from some users who
insisted that time they spent online did not detract from
their social relationships.
However, the researchers said they had now gathered further
evidence showing that in addition to its impact on
television viewing, Internet use has lowered the amount of
time people spend socializing with friends and even
According to the study, an hour of time spent using the
Internet reduces face-to-face contact with friends,
co-workers and family by 23.5 minutes, lowers the amount of
time spent watching television by 10 minutes and shortens
sleep by 8.5 minutes.
The researchers acknowledged that the study data did not
answer questions about whether Internet use itself
strengthened or weakened social relations with one's
friends and family.
"It's a bit of a two-edged sword," Mr. Nie said. "You can't
get a hug or a kiss or a smile over the Internet." Many
people are still more inclined to use the telephone for
contact with family, he said.
The latest study also found that online game playing has
become a major part of Internet use.
Over all, 57 percent of Internet use was devoted to
communications like e-mail, instant messaging and chat
rooms, and 43 percent for other activities including Web
browsing, shopping and game playing. Users reported that
they spent 8.7 percent of their Internet time playing
The study also found that although the Internet is widely
employed for communications, users spend little of their
online time in contact with family members.
Of the time devoted to communication, just a sixth was
spent staying in touch with family members, significantly
less than the time spent on work-related communications and
contact with friends.
The study found that as much as 75 percent of the
population in the United States now has access to the
Internet either at home or work.
"It is remarkable that this expansion of use has happened
in just a decade since the invention of the Web browser,"
Mr. Nie said. That rate of growth is almost as fast as the
spread of the telephone, and is impressive because the
computer is more complicated to use, he said.
The study, titled "What Do Americans Do on the Internet?"
also found that junk e-mail and computer maintenance take
up a significant amount of the time spent online each day.
Respondents reported spending 14 minutes daily dealing
with computer problems. That would suggest that Internet
users spend a total of 10 workdays each year dealing with
The study, the latest in an annual series, was based on a
survey of 4,839 people between the ages of 18 and 64 who
were randomly selected. Respondents were asked to create
detailed diaries of how they spent their time during six
randomly selected hours of the previous day.
Data collection was performed by Knowledge Networks, a
survey research firm based in Menlo Park, Calif. The
researchers plan to release the study on Monday on their
Web site, www.stanford.edu/group/siqss.
Thirty-one percent of the survey sample reported using the
Internet on the day before they were surveyed. Researchers
classified this group as Internet users.
The researchers found that the amount of Internet use does
not differ by gender. But women on average use e-mail,
instant messaging and social networking more than men,
while men spend more time browsing, reading discussion
groups and participating in chat rooms.
Younger people in the sample tended to favor immediate
forms of online communication, while older people used
e-mail more frequently.
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