[opendtv] News: Internet Use Said to Cut Into TV Viewing and Socializing

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: OpenDTV Mail List <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 10:01:44 -0500

Internet Use Said to Cut Into TV Viewing and Socializing

Published: December 30, 2004

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 

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 sleeping.

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 online games.

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 

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 such problems.

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, 

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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