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Social Side-Effects Of Internet Use 476

venicebeach writes "The World Internet Project has released its third annual report on internet usage. It contains few surprises, but lots of interesing stats - for example the most experienced internet users spend an average of 15.8 hours online per week. CNN is running a story on the social findings - "New study shatters Internet 'geek' image." Apparently they are suprised to hear that internet users are more social than non-users: internet users watch less television, read more books and engage in more social activities."
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Social Side-Effects Of Internet Use

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  • by glinden ( 56181 ) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:33PM (#7976519) Homepage Journal
    Considering that the average American watches four hours of television per day [], I'm not sure the average person has much time left for socializing. Anything that reduces the amount of TV watched, including using the Internet, is likely to improve how social that person is.
    • by BlewScreen ( 159261 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:36PM (#7976564)
      I'm not sure how that makes your point. If you replace an hour of TV with an hour of the Internet, you haven't exactly gained time for social activities...

    • And considering the average family has 2.6 children i can't imagine how they have time for any of this nonsense, since I imagine the average medical bills to care for a 0.6 child must be astronomical, typically.
    • by dustmote ( 572761 ) <fleck55&hotmail,com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:39PM (#7976640) Homepage Journal
      I can't imagine watching that much television. Now that I've finally gotten used to not watching it (for about three years now, with occasional watching when at other peoples' homes) I can't stand to watch the "evil box" for very long. Every time I sit in front of it for very long at all I become very conscious of the amount of time that I am wasting on it, time that could have been used doing so many much more constructive things. (Or just surfing the net)
      • ...and not looking at more advertising. I have become used to the process of using the internet. I do what I gotta do and I am in full control. On the tv, we are at the mercy of the broadcasters who decide to interupt their content with commercials and "Station Identification". Yes there is advertising on the net, but it doesn't force me to stop what I am doing and either leave or endure their plugs.
        • by dustmote ( 572761 ) <fleck55&hotmail,com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:00PM (#7976943) Homepage Journal
          Tell me about it. Is it just me or has television advertising gotten more poorly done and more desperate in the past five years? "Hi! Please for the love of god pay attention to me! Buy this product! Do something! Anything! Look! I'm acting crazy! I'm not making sense! Please don't turn off the TV and use the internet! PLEEEEEEEAAAASE" *click* And that's half of why I don't watch it anymore. It's all noise, no signal.
    • by photoblur ( 552862 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:45PM (#7976734) Homepage
      In the last few decades, TV became the common ground that brought much of our society together... disparate groups of people didn't have much in common, except TV. As TV began to model more and more content after our culture, we began to model our lives after what we saw on TV. Sooner or later we were bound to reach a point where life and TV were nearly interchangable... why go outside and meet people when you can just "meet" someone new on TV? And it's so much easier to "meet" someone that way.

      Thankfully, the internet came along to provide a dissenting fracture to the TV as life/life as TV spiral. The internet encourages interaction between people. The internet makes diversity within society easier to accomplish, while at the same time providing a common ground that can bring people together. As the next step in our culture's social model, the internet is a positive step forward.
    • by DenOfEarth ( 162699 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:49PM (#7976797) Homepage

      Considering that the average American watches four hours of television per day

      What's really crazy about those four hours is that 45 minutes of it is probably commercials!! I'm not sure if that's accurate or not, but the commercials are the entire reason why I don't watch television anymore (well, except for hockey games of course).

      • by daveo0331 ( 469843 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:58PM (#7976920) Homepage Journal
        It's worse than you think. A typical 30 minute TV show is actually 21 minutes of program and 9 minutes of commercials. That's 18 minutes per hour, or 72 minutes over 4 hours (in 1 week, that's 504 minutes = 8h24m of ads).
        • You're pretty close. According to a PhaseOne Communications [] study release last month:

          the four major networks air an average of 52 minutes of promotional clutter along with their programming from 8-11 PM, up 8% from 2000 and up 36% from 1991.


          Although networks are using fewer commercial breaks during primetime than in previous years, the average length of each break continues to rise, to an all-time high of 3.05 minutes, up 41% from just five years ago.


          Among the four major networks, ABC ra

    • by Slightly Askew ( 638918 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:59PM (#7976932) Journal
      I would much rather my child take his cues on how to act socially from Clifford or Sesame Street than from the community in which I live. I have seen him interact with many children of different ethnicities and disabilities, and have never been embarassed by some social gaffe. I owe this to the fact that his mother and I never pointed out that being black or asian is any different than being blond or tall, and also to the fact that Barney, Big Bird, and the like always had mixed racial friends. If it was left up to my "village" to raise my "child", I have no doubt he would be an ignorant, bigoted redneck like the rest of them.

      Watching television does not reduce the sociability of a person. It can teach them how to be a reponsible citizen. I'd rather my child be in front of a TV watching Caillou than being social with the other kids while chucking rocks at the Mexican kids.

      No, it is not coincidence that the television shows I listed are on PBS

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:35PM (#7977431)
        I owe this to the fact that his mother and I never pointed out that being black or asian is any different than being blond or tall

        Don't worry, someone else will teach him to be racist. I learned all about racism in my Baltimore middle school. Our black female Librarian taught all of us that there are only 2 races, black and non-black. (That is right, I learned rasicm from a black woman.) If you are non-black you are a narrow minded racist pig and you have victimized blacks for generations. Regardless of where you or your ancestors were born you enslaved black people and you owe them.

        I learned the lessons of the 70s left very well. And, my parents didn't have to teach me. Certainly not the lessons they would have taught me. The personal is political. Even today, I look at a TV commercial and identify the racial/sexual makeup of the ad and determine which group is being made fun of (usually the white male, BTW).

        Don't worry even if you don't teach your kids this, someone will come along a teach your kids how to view people as just a demographic to hate or feel sorry for.

      • My brother and I grew up with TV being a limited asset. Our parents severely restricted our TV time, as it were. My little sister however, was not so closely monitored, as my parents had to get full time jobs to support the three of us. She is now reaching the early teen years, is far more astute to the world around her. She is up on the newest fasions, knows the newest phrases, and wants all the new toys in the commercials.

        In short, TV has successfully brainwashed her into the ideal little consumer.

    • I killed my TV in 1998. It was because of something I noticed while watching the NFL's "Sunday Ticket". You know, you just sit around all day Sunday and watch 3 three-hour games and 2 hours of pre/post game. 11 hours of beer and football - I was sick.

      The final straw came when I noticed something. I could switch to another secondary game when mine went to commercial, and then switch back to the primary game when the commercial was over. What was important was that I just 'knew' when the commercials were o
  • by JohnGrahamCumming ( 684871 ) * <> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:34PM (#7976532) Homepage Journal
    That's more like my daily Internet use :-)

    I wonder what percentile the average /.er is in?

    • Re:15.8hrs/week! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ndrw ( 205863 )
      I wonder if they count time at "work" in this average as well? I'd be up to around 10 hours a day if so, but less on weekends (when I'm doing all that "socializing").

      I guess my average would be about 55 hours/week then. I bet there's people around here with a lot more though - and probably someone with more than 50 hours a week just on slashdot?!!
    • Only people who are able to be online more then /.ers are probally pr0n addicts. I wouldnt be supprised if some /.ers Are over 50 hours a week.
    • Re:15.8hrs/week! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tedtimmons ( 97599 ) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:41PM (#7976678) Homepage
      Also, what quantifies "internet use"? For this study, I'm assuming that means time spent in front of a web browser. Does ssh'ing into a linux box halfway across the world count? What if it's across the same city? What if it's under my desk?

      Does checking email count? What if I download my email and read it offline? What if I print out my email and then read it? (no, I don't do this, but I know execs that do)

      What if I'm at my computer, playing nethack, but I'm signed into Trillian?

      • by B5_geek ( 638928 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:56PM (#7976888)
        Yeah, I am in the same ball-park.
        16hrs per day (sitting in front of a PC)
        = 112hrs/week

        I wonder if that includes all the remote boxes I have going at once.

        4 SSH sessions to other servers running 24x7
        2-3 ftp sessions d'loading shareware ~ 12 hrs/day
        NewsBin D'loading newsgroups = 24x7
        BitTorrent = 24x7 (x 3 computers)
        email client is running 24x7
        various coding and design stuff = 4hrs/day

        All total I am responsible for 232Hrs/day of computer use. Man, I need a nap. =)
      • Does ssh'ing into a linux box halfway across the world count? What if it's across the same city? What if it's under my desk?

        ssh into a box halfway across the world, across the same city, and under your desk only counts if you have opened a ssl vpn to your sdf account, sshed to the mail server then sshed to your pc to do a rsync of your /var/mail/spool/[$userid] mailbox.
    • Re:15.8hrs/week! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sonpal ( 527593 )
      We should make this a poll topic!
    • Often surveys will knock out answers too far outside of the mean as people who took the survey as a joke. I imagine we would fall into those categories that are eliminated because they're considered (by non /.'ers) too high to be factual.
  • by tuxette ( 731067 ) * <> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:34PM (#7976534) Homepage Journal
    Amateurs! I know people who are on for longer than 15.8 hours per day!
  • by Schwartzboy ( 653985 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:35PM (#7976543)
    internet users watch less television, read more books and engage in more social activities.

    Next week, we'll hear that it's recently been discovered that internet users simply lie for the purposes of polls and statistics more than non-users do, and those that don't lie outright simply know how to crack the World Internet Project's records and alter their annual reports to be more favorable to the 'net-bound...
    • by snarkh ( 118018 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:37PM (#7976596)
      Right. According to a new survey of internet users, more than 50% of the surveyed lie on their survey questions.
    • internet users watch less television, read more books and engage in more social activities."

      Here's the real reasons:

      1. watch less television because they're glued to their computers. cheating on their spouses, etc. no surprise there
      2. read more books because they're constantly going through all sorts of manuals, guides for idiots, dummies, etc trying to get their frigging computer to #%$@# work!
      3. more social because they're using the net to pretend they're 30 years younger/100 pounds lighter trying to find
    • Well, and who's not to say that the results weren't just made up [] anyway? Why rely on lying survey participants, when you can just make up the numbers yourself? That saves everybody a lot of time...
  • by Em Emalb ( 452530 ) * < minus poet> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:35PM (#7976550) Homepage Journal
    The credibility of information published on the Internet also received a surprising boost.

    Despite the existence of countless spoof Web sites and message boards that carry oddball political rants, more than half of Internet users surveyed said "most or all" of the information they find online is reliable and credible.

    New medium, same gullibility.
  • by sugapablo ( 600023 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:36PM (#7976561) Homepage
    I got a wife and kid now. :) Met my wife on IRC 6 years ago. We now have our first kid and have been married 3.5 years. And I probably spend 10 hours a day online. :P
  • hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Joe the Lesser ( 533425 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:36PM (#7976568) Homepage Journal
    do D&D sessions count as social gatherings, cuz if so then sure, this works.
  • TV (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jhines0042 ( 184217 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:36PM (#7976571) Journal
    I watch less than 1 hour of TV per week. Unless I or my wife are not feeling well. Then it goes up to an hour or two per day.

    Most of the rest of the time we are working, sleeping, cleaning the house (laundry etc), hanging out with friends, reading books, watching movies, pusuing a hobby or playing games.

    The Internet gives us the content we want, when we want it, where we want it. TV just can't do that.
    • Re:TV (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Milo Fungus ( 232863 )

      Same here, but even less. We don't even have a TV in the house. No need.

      Not only does the internet give you "the content we want, when we want it, where we want it," but it also makes it much easier to avoid the content you don't want, when you don't want it, and where you don't want it. There is a lot more violence and sex on TV now than there was just a few years ago when I was a teenager, and a lot of it is in commercials. That's not as big of a problem on the web, especially if you use Mozilla with

  • Not surprised. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LowTolerance ( 301722 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:37PM (#7976595)
    I used to be an anti-social geek until I discovered the internet. Upon discovering how easy it is to communicate with people when not face to face, I learned to like people and interact with them. I was able to hide any apprehension, and by subverting this I gained real confidence in myself. This of course translated over well to the real world, and now I consider myself a people person. And no one thinks I am a geek. So this article comes as no surprise to me, and I'm sure that I'm not the only person in this boat.
    • Re:Not surprised. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ParadoxicalPostulate ( 729766 ) <saapad AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:44PM (#7976725) Journal
      I agree.

      Although I consider my self to be fairly competent when it comes to conducting myself socially IRL, when it comes to meaningful discussions the net is the way to go - even when I am talking to people I know IRL.

      From my observation, the biggest reason your confidence gets boosted when on the net is because you don't have to worry about the person's initial reaction - i.e. you don't see facial expressions, hand movements, etc. Thus, you are not continuously evaluating your "speech" to see if they care. That leaves a lot more room for confidence and attention to what you do mean to say.
    • Re:Not surprised. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dustmote ( 572761 )
      Yeah, this roughly parallels my experiences. I had already run into a lot of the common pitfalls of the social experience, via flamewars and the like, by the time I was ready to interact with people. Most of the growth then required was personal growth, rather than interpersonal. Well, more of it than I would have thought, anyway. I wonder if this is the new generation of geekdom, some sort of change in the traditional isolation? Doesn't seem to help love lives much, but most of the geeks I know nowada
    • by justMichael ( 606509 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:57PM (#7976912) Homepage
      ...I learned to like people...

      Do you have the URL for that HOWTO?

      I've been trying for years to like people and it just seems tougher than finding a decent ATI driver for X11 ;-)
    • This fits me well... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by antdude ( 79039 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:01PM (#7976973) Homepage Journal
      ... because I have a speech impediment so I can't communicate verbally very well. Internet and BBS were a big welcome to my life. I rarely even use telephones and don't need TDD devices anymore.
    • Re:Not surprised. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Monoliath ( 738369 )
      I agree with you as well. I wont go as far as saying that I was once an anti social person and the internet changed that, because that isn't my case, but I can say that interacting with people across the internet is much easier than in the real world, like someone said in a post above, you don't have to deal with all of the external social scrutiny that takes place in a first time physical meeting. On the web, the interaction is purely mental, it?s almost as if it's more of a direct connection between two
  • backwards? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tedtimmons ( 97599 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:37PM (#7976597) Homepage
    So do internet users read more, or do readers watch less TV?

    What a surprise. Some people want more intellectual stimulation than TV provides. Not that South Park and the Daily Show aren't intellectual, but they aren't exactly on the same level as Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel".
  • by TekZen ( 611640 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:38PM (#7976606) Homepage Journal
    I would be really interested to see a study seeking to find a link between internet usage and awareness/involvement in current events.

    Many of my friends who aren't on the internet very much are always asking me what's going on in the world. Though I am not sure if it is internet users or memigo [] users.

    -Jackson []
  • Uh Oh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wheaty18 ( 465429 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:38PM (#7976619)
    If the 'most experienced' internet users spend an average of 15.8 hours a week online, what the hell does that make me? (Most Experienced)?
  • by Metallic Matty ( 579124 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:38PM (#7976623)
    Mostly this article just reinforces what I already knew about myself and my online associates. Honestly, the whole geek image has been one of stereotype since the beginning. Not everyone who uses computers and goes online frequently has thick glasses and no girlfriend, sitting around playing EverQuest all day. (This isn't an attack on EQ players, I am one.)

    Most of my friends who can be found sitting behind their computer all day watch little to no television, and spend a great deal of their time reading (I personally find e-books easier to read than real books, and do so often.) I would say the internet is a far better medium to immerse yourself in than television or radio.
  • Liars (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:40PM (#7976647)
    Who is really going to answer 'I sit unwashed in a darkened room masturbating and hitting refresh entirely too often.'

    P.S. Reading books is not a social activity. What exactly are these unspecified 'social activities?' Is posting to message boards considered 'social.'
  • Social... (Score:5, Funny)

    by MP3Chuck ( 652277 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:40PM (#7976654) Homepage Journal
    "internet users watch less television,"
    Download the episodes...

    "read more books"
    And/or lots of Linux docs...

    "and engage in more social activities"
    Do LAN Parties count?
  • Everyone uses the internet. This includes both social and unsocial people. The internet has a much wider and broader appeal than say, reading books, which may not appeal as much to kids and teenages.
  • by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:41PM (#7976672)
    Unlike TV, you have to at least be able to READ to get much out of the Internet. :)
    • by miyako ( 632510 ) <miyako&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @05:44PM (#7978424) Homepage Journal
      I know the parent poster was intending to be funny, but I think there is a lot of truth to the statment.
      At least in the social ciricles of which I am a part , or an observer of, there seems to be a sort or line by which you can divide people into two groups. The first group pride themselves on intelligence, or at least in learning about new things, keeping up with world events, and in general being well rounded people. The other is the group which prides themselves on ignorance, these are the people who are proud that they cannot set the clock on their VCR. It is the former group which I think tends to spend more time online, seeing it as a valuable resource for information and for the communication of ideas in an open forum (be it IRC, newsgroups, /. or whatever), this is the same group which tends to read more often, and whatch less TV. The latter of the groups, while not illiterate (at least not the majority), seem to think that there is a finite amount of thinking they are born with, and are being very careful not to use it all up. This group is unconserned with expanding their own horizons, and as such have little use for the majority of the content available on the internet. It is this group which tends to spend more time watching TV, which provides a form of entertainment(if you can call most tv entertaining) that requires very little thought.
      It seems to me that everyone has some amount of time is spent non-socially. It is this time which those intent on learning and the like spend on the net, and those content to live in a happy stupor spend watching TV. Of course the average net user spends less time on the net than the average TV viewer spends watching TV because the net user has more options available to him or her. For those wishing to use their brain as little as possible, the majority of that non-social time can be spent watching tv, movies, and thats about it. For the group who likes to learn and expand their mind however, the choices for that non-social time include being on the internet, reading, drawing, playing music, and a number of other artistic or challenging activities.
  • Whew!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Neurotoxic666 ( 679255 ) <neurotoxic666@hotmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:41PM (#7976679) Homepage
    the most experienced internet users spend an average of 15.8 hours online per week

    I read "offline" the first time. I thought it was an okay average...

    And actualy, I think the it's the time we spend offline that socialy affects us. I mean, how can your friends contact you if you're not on MSN??
  • In my case... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by blixel ( 158224 )
    Apparently they are suprised to hear that internet users are more social than non-users:

    internet users watch less television
    .. True

    read more books ... True

    and engage in more social activities. ... Definitely false. Unless IRC and Instant Messaging is now considered a social activity.
    • Unless IRC and Instant Messaging is now considered a social activity.

      I consider any activity where people are interacting with each other a social activity. Using irc, IM, a phone, they're all pretty much the same thing. Even when a bunch of my friends and I meet up for a game of starcraft, it's very much a social activity, not that much unlike all of us heading to one person's dorm to hang out and play risk or monopoly.
    • Re:In my case... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jin Wicked ( 317953 )

      and engage in more social activities....

      This can be true for many. I know it is for me. I was always a bit of a hermit and have had a hard time meeting people I got along with enough to spend much time with, but since I started using things like livejournal and instant messaging, it's resulted in being involved with several groups of friends that I know very well, and we go out and do things like get coffee, shoot pool, and just hang out. I regularly go out and have lunch to meet new people, other arti

  • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:42PM (#7976687) Journal
    I'm just curious -- unless you're, say, a parent reading to their child, how exactly is book reading a social activity?
    • I'm just curious -- unless you're, say, a parent reading to their child, how exactly is book reading a social activity?

      Book reading as a social event:

      Read a book. Tell your friends what you thought of it and if they should or should not read it. Once they read it, or even while they havn't finished it yet, discuss the book. I have a book I read a few months ago. I finished it and passed it along to a friend. Each of her parents read it, and her friend and mother read it as well. We've talked about it a
  • by greymond ( 539980 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:42PM (#7976690) Homepage Journal
    I watch very little tv (no pre-set shows i watch/like)

    I read books often (1 every month or so)

    I only "go out" on weekends

    I spend the majority of my time at work chatting online and surfing the net, then I come home and play FFXI.

    Why should I go outside? I get hay fever or cold or could get in an accident. It's not warm enough to use the pool yet, and the jacuzzi is nice, but I get cold when I get out.

    I think i'll just stay in and continue my life.
  • Net users aren't lusers! Multinational study confirms what most everyone already knows! Overrated geek stereotypes shattered! Everyone will forget this shortly however!

    Frivolity aside, I am confused by the increase in 'trusted' content perception of most people the 'net has grown larger, most geeks trust less and less of the content, in my experience. The more that any old Joe is allowed to just throw online, the higher the signal to noise ratio goes...
  • If anything since I was first "online" in 1993-4. I've slowly become less social. Of course, aging from 18-28 can do that also I guess.

    Anyone else think the internet in general has made them less social?
  • I am not suprised (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KD7JZ ( 161218 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:49PM (#7976794)
    This is the same effect that has been discussed here often. Heavy internet users are likely to be people who are interested in life. They want to learn, do new things, try new things, know how things work..
  • Obviously if they can't interview evercrack addicts because they are stuck in a timesink, their opinions can't be included in any statistic.

  • by rcastro0 ( 241450 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:53PM (#7976848) Homepage
    Apparently they are suprised to hear that internet users are more social than non-users: internet users watch less television, read more books and engage in more social activities.
    This leads you to think that if you surf the internet you become more prone to social interactions and you read more books. However all of these things are probably related to something else.

    The article is not clear about it, but I would guess they did not adjust for Socio-Economic Segments (SES). SES would reflect mainly an individual's income and education level.

    Internet usage of course begun in the higher SES levels (having started mainly in the academic world) -- and has ever since penetrated more the top levels than the bottom ones (this has in turn given risen to the term digital divide []). On the other hand, guess which SES reads more books and has a richer social experience ?
  • Well, it's all official but for the Netcraft survey: there are no true geeks left on the Internet. *GEEK is dying, or something like that.

    All of us Dorks on the internet need to unite -- form a union or something -- lest we suffer the same cruel fate!

  • New study shatters Internet 'geek' image

    Let's get one thing clear right now... if you researchers think that's going to stop or even slow down the tide of 'virgin comic book guy living in his parent's basement' jokes around here, you are sadly mistaken!

    We won't let you destroy our beloved tradition!
  • Is it a problem when I have spent more time online than that, just today?
  • more stats (Score:2, Funny)

    by lonb ( 716586 ) *
    "...average of 15.8 hours online per week"

    Let me break down further:
    0.1 hours shopping on eBay
    0.2 hours deleting spam
    0.4 hours reading /.
    15.1 hours spent looking at pr0n

  • by Slightly Askew ( 638918 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:15PM (#7977127) Journal

    I get so tired of this assumption that just because a person reads a lot, they are automatically more intelligent. I happen to read quite a bit, but I know people who spend way more time than most people watching TV, yet are very intelligent. Specifically, I know of a college professor that could out debate anyone on Crossfire, and does nothing all evening but watch History and PBS.

    Also, what's with the assumption that any reading material is automatically more valuable than any television show? I can learn more watching 30 minutes of TLC, Discovery, A&E, Biography, History Channel, or PBS than I can in spending three hours reading whatever trash Oprah is recommending this week. I do agree that reading increases vocabulary, but I would also argue that television is much more conducive to other areas of learning, as it delivers its message via sight and sound.

    As for the social aspect, many of us are forced into social situations all day long. We do not need to spend our times outside of the office, carpool, school, college, whatever to increase our social skills. However, we do need "alone time" so that we can regroup and prepare for the next day.

  • Baloney (Score:5, Informative)

    by tmark ( 230091 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:17PM (#7977154)
    De novo, given the penetration of the Net into most of the countries surveyed, I'd say the results as presented would mean nothing.

    But given that the survey comes from an Internet advocacy group (from their site : "the originators of this project believe that the Internet ... will transform our social, political and economic lives"), I'd say the results mean even LESS than nothing. I doubt such a group would put out a study saying "heavy net users are social outcasts".

    - it's nearly obvious that a person who spends 15 hours on the Net a week would spend less time watching TV - if only because that person has less hours in his day to do so. Let me see TV-watching statistics as a proportion of free time NOT spent on the Net.

    - it's also obvious that Net users are more affluent, which correlates strongly with having better paying jobs and with having higher education levels, just like say, owning a BMW. So it's more likely they're going to spend more time reading, because i) they're more likely to be literate, ii) they're more likely to need to read as a function of their work. Let me see what Net usage looks like for owners of different cars, and then let's argue about what these statistics mean.

    - because of an nearly implied level of affluence, people who can afford a Net connection are also likely to have more leisure time in general than non-Net users. It's hard to be out there socializing when you're a blue-collar joe working two jobs to make ends meet for your family of six. Do you think such a person spends much time on the Net ?

    This study is useless as presented, and I frankly don't believe it. Just look at all the TV-related love-ins (Farscape/Tivo/STTNG/Futurama/etc.) here and ask whether you really believe Net users watch more TV ON AN ADJUSTED BASIS than non-Net users. The problem is that specification of a Net user is confounded with all sorts of variables.

    What I want to see are numbers that show hours of "social" activity related to leisure hours NOT SPENT ON THE INTERNET. I bet they'd tell a different story. I'd bet that heavy Net users spend FAR less time doing socializing/exercising/being outside than people who use the Net moderately or less.
  • by gnalle ( 125916 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:25PM (#7977249)
    I cannot access the new report, but here is a pages with some of their former reports: 2000 -2002 []. My impression is that you cannot conclude very much from these reports. Let's take the US 2002 report [] as an example. They have collected data from 2000 households in America. Using these data they can compare the households with internet access to households without internet access.

    The problem is that internet access is correllated to education level. Furthermore a person with a high education will tend to read more books. In other words it is not very surprising if internet users read more books. Similar arguments can be applied to many of the other conclusions in the report.

    In conclusion this report does not tell us if internet use changes the life style of a person.

  • by nelsonal ( 549144 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:32PM (#7977362) Journal
    How much more popular radio was with experinced users than non users, in almost every case, radio was much more commonly used, more important to older (been online a long time not age) interent users than noobs. Either the old guard loves Rush, or it's just something that doesn't require eyes, but that is odd. Who'd have thought that an older technology would benefit from the rapid adoption of a newer one leaving the middle tech aced out.
  • by Cyno ( 85911 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:35PM (#7977430) Journal
    A study of the social side-effects and environmental impact of commercialism and capitalism.
  • Well Duh! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SomeOtherGuy ( 179082 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:48PM (#7977639) Journal
    Apparently they are suprised to hear that internet users are more social than non-users: internet users watch less television, read more books and engage in more social activities."

    That's because I can find out anything RIGHT now by clickety clicking....rather that sitting in front of my TV and listening to the sound bite commercials from the news channells all night waiting to "find out at 10..."
  • by T-Ranger ( 10520 ) <`jeffw' `at' `'> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @05:02PM (#7977819) Homepage
    I have a DSL connection at home, and I work from home. My router/firewall/server and desktop are always turned on. I always have a copy of mozilla running, and evolution is up most of the time.

    Does that count as being online 168 hours a week?

    If Im working on some programming project for, say a 4 hour streach, and Im flipping back and forth to a browser pointed at some online documentation, does that count as 4 hours online? Or (pulling a number out of my ass) is only 10% of that online?

  • Or not... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @05:08PM (#7977885) Homepage
    ... doing a survey of the population of Internet users is more than a little selective. I'd guess Internet users are probably also better educated and more affluent. Does that mean the Internet *made* them more educated and affluent? No. It means more educated, affluent people use the Internet. The same goes here. *shrug*
  • what's "offline"? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @05:31PM (#7978229) Homepage Journal
    I stare at my computer screen for scores of hours a week. I spend lots of time reading documents pulled from the Net, either webpages or downloaded docs (apt-get install ; man ). The actual Net transactions are very short compared to my reading time: I read at about 4800bps and download at about 3Mbps. When am I online? What is "offline"?
  • by bob_jenkins ( 144606 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @06:38PM (#7979083) Homepage Journal
    The traffic on my web site and the amount of (non-spam) email I get are less than half of what they were a year ago. The topics I'm interested in (hash functions, regression testing, voting, orbital mechanics) are mentioned on Usenet less frequently than they were a year ago.

    What's up? Is there less software being developed now than a year ago? Has spam made the internet yucky? Has the internet fad passed? Or is it just me?

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle