Internet Use Shifts From Quantity To Quality

By: Anick Jesdanun, AP Internet Writer

(AP) As Americans gain experience online, the nature of their Internet usage shifts from quantity to quality.

A study released Sunday found that veterans e-mailed friends and family less often, but were more likely than newcomers to share worries or seek advice. As the Internet becomes less a novelty, veterans also spent less time online, but used that time to do more tasks.

“People get more serious,” said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which conducted the study. “It’s a story about how the Internet is working its way into everyday rhythms of life.”

The telephone-based survey suggests that veterans even take the Internet for granted.

In March 2000, 88% of Americans who e-mail family members considered e-mail “very” or “somewhat” useful for keeping up with relatives. When respondents were contacted again a year later, only 79% thought so.

Suggesting they are less dazzled by the Internet, 12% of people who e-mail relatives did so every day in March 2001, compared with 21% a year earlier.

But 44% in 2001 sometimes raised issues they are worried or upset about, up from 37% in 2000. Fifty-six percent e-mailed a relative seeking advice, up from 45%. The study found similar patterns with e-mail to friends.

Users in 2001 spent 83 minutes online during a typical session, down from 90 minutes a year earlier. But they make better use of their time, buying stocks, making travel reservations, and finding jobs online as they gain experience.

After the initial experimentation, Internet users figure out what the medium is good for and find other ways to do everything else. He also said users need less time to perform the same tasks.

The study was initially based on a random telephone survey with 3,533 people in March 2000. Researchers attempted to reach everyone a year later and succeeded in completing 1,501 follow-up interviews. Comparisons were based on the cases where interviews were conducted both years.

The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, with larger margins for subgroups such as Internet users.

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