(Washington) — Survey work by the Pew Internet & American Life Project has found that there is considerable variation in the Internet population about how much time people spend online. Overall, online Americans who are using the Internet more make up a greater proportion of the Internet population than those who say they are using it less.

In a survey in February 2001, the Project asked 1,081 Internet users whether they were using the Internet more or less than they were six months earlier. The responses were:

  • 54% said they were using the Internet the same amount of time
  • 29% said they were using the Internet more
  • 17% said they were using it less

    “There are more people online on any given day now than there were last year,” says Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. “The reasons for their increased Internet use are very straightforward: The Web is an increasingly important tool for work and school. Email and instant messaging are ever-more-valuable ways to stay in touch with family and friends. And many are spending more time online exploring new activities that help them entertain themselves or pursue their interests.”

    The people who say they are using less say the reasons include these: They are less interested in doing things online, they have less time to spend online, they are no longer required to use the Internet at work or school, or they have lost access to their computer or Internet connection.

    “All the troubles of the dot-com economy have led some to believe that the Internet is a passing fad – the 21st Century version of CB radios or 8-track stereos,” says Susannah Fox, Director of Research at the Pew Internet & American Life Project. “For some users that is undeniably the case. They don’t find Internet tools are very useful. But many online Americans are using the Internet more now as they incorporate Internet activities more deeply into their lives.”

    The results come from an analysis of a special sample of 1,081 Internet users in a phone survey in February 2001. The margin of error for this sample is plus or minus three percentage points.