NET NEWS: Brazilians Flock to the Net

Science  27 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5394, pp. 1607c
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5394.1607c

The early days of the U.S. Internet boom are being replayed in Brazil, where the number of Internet surfers is growing at a phenomenal rate. Only 3 years after the Internet became widely available in Brazil, 3.5 million (2.2%) of its 160 million citizens regularly sign on, according to a study released last month—up from 250,000 in 1996.

That estimate is based on a questionnaire survey of 15,000 people by the Brazilian Institute for Public Opinion and Statistics, which also collaborated with the Cade? search engine on a Web survey of 50,000 users. The results show that Brazil's surfers, like Netizens in the United States a few years ago, are mostly young (79% are between 15 and 39), male (71%), and single (64%). More than 40% have finished high school, and one-fourth are college graduates. Most respondents logged in from home, mainly to get information from the World Wide Web, especially news and science; one-third use it for e-mail. As a result of using the Internet, almost 30% watch less television, 12% sleep less, and 7% have cut back on their reading.

Little reliable research has been done on Internet use in other developing countries, experts say. But according to Andy Scherrer, a statistician with Matrix Information and Directory Services Inc. in Texas, a survey last January of numbers of Internet host computers around the world found that Brazil ranked 20th—above Russia, India, and China.

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