Study: Net Has Both Supporters, Skeptics

A new global study of the Internet reveals that both use and skepticism
about the credibility of content is growing.

The UCLA Internet Report, created by the Center for Communication Policy at
the University of California
, Los Angeles, surveyed thousands of
respondents about their Web patterns.

The study found that most people are less concerned about the risk of
personal data and credit card information being stolen online.

One key trend gleaned by the study found that many online users are surfing the Web at
the expense of time spent watching television. While the migration of the TV
audience to the Web is not in itself a new finding, the study says that
Internet users watched nearly five and half hours less of television per
week compared to those not spending time on the Internet.

The study has been going on for more than three years, and is examining
subtle trends in how people are entertained, and how they split some of
their leisure time between television and the Internet.

Consumer media habits are also a component of the study. The study found
that of the 71.1 percent of Americans who spend time on the Internet, 61.1
percent found it “very” or “extremely” important to them, compared with 57.8
percent for newspapers, 50.2 percent for television and 40 percent for
radio. So beyond sheer time, the Web has taken on great significance to how
people are consuming media.

But while many Internet users turn to the Web for information and
entertainment, the issue of credibility continues to be a concern. Only 52.8
percent of Internet users found most or all of the information online to be deem credible in 2002, down from 58 percent in 2001, and 55 percent in 2000.

The study’s authors expect users will become increasingly skeptical of the
information offered on the Web. The study also found that the number of
people conducting online shopping transactions is falling, but the number of transactions and the amount
being spent by the shoppers are increasing. In conclusion, Internet buyers are making more purchases but spending less per purchase.

The UCLA study showed that online users are still concerned about privacy.
88.8 percent of the respondents said they had some privacy concerns, down
from 94.6 percent in 2001.

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