The Pew Internet Project conducted the Major Moments Survey in March 2005, repeating some elements of a survey from January 2002. A comparison of the two surveys reveals striking increases in the number of Americans who report using the internet for major life decisions. Over the three-year period, the number of adults who said the internet played a major role as they helped another person cope with an illness increased by 54%. The number who said the internet played a crucial role as they themselves coped with a major illness rose by 40%. There was also substantial growth in the number of respondents who said the internet played a major role as they trained for their careers (50%), made major investment or financial decisions (45%), and looked for a new place to live (43%). An extrapolation of the 2005 survey data shows that the number of Americans turning to the internet during major decisions is sizable. Among the 60 million, some 21 million relied on the internet for career training, 17 million for helping someone cope with an illness, and 17 million for choosing a school for oneself of one’s child. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.