RealTime IT News

Americans Gradually Turn to Net for Daily Tasks

Consumer Internet usage in the United States is increasingly broad but still relatively shallow, according to a new report issued today by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Pew conducted the survey through a random telephone survey late last year. The results show that 88 percent of online Americans say the Internet plays a role in their lives, but two-thirds of those say it is only a minor role.

The report says of the many Internet users who switch between the offline and online worlds for activities, most still use the real world alternative rather than the online one.

For instance, the report states, Internet users buy movie tickets more often at the box office than buy them online. Further, when Internet users do a certain activity exclusively in one area, more will still do it exclusively offline than exclusively online.

Online banking and bill paying is gaining in popularity with consumers becoming more confident with online security. But the one activity that folks head online for more often than off, according to the report, is looking for maps and driving instructions.

"More and more people are going on the Internet to do more and more things, but the Internet hasn't yet replaced the old-fashioned way of doing things," report author Deborah Fallows said. "We have a timeline marching on here. In just a few years, the Internet has made a strong mark on everyday life. The Internet is still new. We certainly haven't reached a tipping point yet."

For instance, Fallows said, Americans are still more likely to get news, listen to music, pay bills and look up telephone numbers and addresses offline than online.

Internet "enthusiasts" constitute a third of the surveyed who say the Internet plays a major role in their lives. Fallows said many of them rely on the Internet more than offline sources to accomplish everyday tasks.

They are more likely to be online veterans with more than six years of experience, enjoy higher socioeconomic status and to have broadband connections.