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Wednesday, 15 May, 2002, 08:37 GMT 09:37 UK
Americans make life decisions on the net
Person on the internet, BBC
Americans using the net to choose a school
Americans are using the internet to make major life decisions, according to a new study.

Research by US-based think-tank Pew Internet found that millions of Americans are turning to the web for help about getting a job, moving home and choosing a school for their children.

Nearly half said that the internet played an important role in one of the 15 major decisions they had made.

This included helping a loved one deal with illness or getting important financial advice.

Changing jobs

Eleven million US internet users said that the internet played a crucial role when choosing a school for their children, while eight million turned to the net when looking for a new place to live.

The study found that 41% of internet users received additional education or training in the past two years and nearly a third used the net to do so.

Of the 28% of internet users that changed jobs within the past two years, a quarter reported that the net played an important part in their career change.

But while the internet is proving vital to decision-making it has little sway over relationships or legal decisions.

Offline romance

Only 15% of those starting or ending a relationship cited the net as a tool in that decision.

No one in the group of internet users who got divorced used the net to help them through it.

Despite the proliferation of legal advice online, only 13% of those involved in a lawsuit or other legal action used the net for help with their cases.

Attitudes to the internet appear to be getting more positive with only a tiny number (1%) worried about computer viruses, pornography or gambling.

Despite a glut of surveys about internet addiction, only 2% of those surveyed felt that someone close to them was spending too much time online.

Pew interviewed 1,415 internet users during January.

See also:

10 May 02 | Sci/Tech
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Children get impatient on the net
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02 Jan 02 | Sci/Tech
Internet starts to shrink
26 Mar 02 | Sci/Tech
How to survive the internet
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