NET NEWS: Web Use Might Be Leveling Off

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  14 Feb 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5609, pp. 989
DOI: 10.1126/science.299.5609.989d

Net surfers are spending more time online, but the number of Americans logging on seems to have plateaued, according to a new report on Internet use from the University of California, Los Angeles. For this third annual report, researchers surveyed more than 2000 randomly chosen households around the country. The results show that the Internet remains the prime source of information for many people. Nearly 75% of Web-savvy folks—those with 6 or more years of surfing experience— rated the Internet as a “very or extremely” important source of information, ranking it higher than TV or magazines. The researchers found that time spent online rose to just over 11 hours per week, versus 9.8 in 2001.

One question that grabs sociologists, says project director Michael Suman, is whether the Internet will become pervasive like TV, or whether many Americans will remain offline. The survey supports the latter. After booming in the 1990s, Internet use seems to have stabilized: About 71% of the survey subjects logged on during 2002, versus 72% in 2001.

Stay Connected to Science

Navigate This Article