When Facing a Tough Decision, 60 Million Americans Now Seek the Internet's Help

Source Organization: Pew Research Center


04/19/2006 - The internet has become increasingly important to users in their everyday lives. The proportion of Americans online on a typical day grew from 36% of the entire adult population in January 2002 to 44% in December 2005. The number of adults who said they logged on at least once a day from home rose from 27% of American adults in January 2002 to 35% in late 2005. And for many of those users, the internet has become a crucial source of information - surveys by the Pew Internet & American Life Project show that fully 45% of internet users, or about 60 million Americans, say that the internet helped them make big decisions or negotiate their way through major episodes in their lives in the previous two years.

To explore this phenomenon, we fielded the Major Moments Survey in March 2005 that repeated elements of an earlier January 2002 survey. Comparison of the two surveys revealed striking increases in the number of Americans who report that the internet played a crucial or important role in various aspects of their lives. Specifically, we found that over the three-year period, internet use grew by:

  • 54% in the number of adults who said the internet played a major role as they helped another person cope with a major illness.
  • 40% among those who said the internet played a major role as they coped themselves with a major illness.
  • 50% in the number who said the internet played a major role as they pursued more training for their careers.
  • 45% in the number who said the internet played a major role as they made major investment or financial decisions.
  • 43% in the number who said the internet played a major role when they looked for a new place to live.
  • 42% in the number who said the internet played a major role as they decided about a school or a college for themselves or their children.
  • 23% in the number who said the internet played a major role when they bought a car.
  • 14% in the number who said the internet played a major role as they switched jobs.
Read the full report When Facing a Tough Decision, 60 Million Americans Now Seek the Internet's Help on the Pew Research Center's Web site.

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