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Internet Surfers NOT Geeks Shock
By: MarkJ - 14 January, 2004 (9:39 AM)

Findings from the first 'World Internet Project' report have concluded that the frequent Internet surfer is often an individual that shuns TV and actively socialises with friends - shock horror.

This represents somewhat of a change from the original perspective of people that spend hours online and rarely engage in real world social interaction.

Instead, the typical Internet user is an avid reader of books and spends more time engaged in social activities than the non-user, it says. And, television viewing is down among some Internet users by as much as five hours per week compared with Net abstainers, the study added.

"Use of the Internet is reducing television viewing around the world while having little impact on positive aspects of social life," said Jeffrey Cole, director of the UCLA Centre for Communication Policy, the California university that organised the project.

"Most Internet users generally trust the information they find online," he told Reuters via e-mail.

The findings are derived from surveys of Internet and non-Internet users in 14 countries: the United States, Britain, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Japan, Macao, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, China and Chile.

The study published on Wednesday does however support some long-established Internet usage trends including the fact that the wealthiest segments of the population are the most avid users and that more men than women surf the Web. But figures vary widely by country.

For example, the gender gap is most pronounced in Italy and smallest in Taiwan. According to the study, 41.7% of Italian men are online compared to 21.5% of Italian women. In Taiwan, the difference is 25.1% for men and 23.5% for women.

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