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Study: Internet use steals TV time

According to a UCLA study, Internet use among Americans continues to grow, and it's taking time away from another classic American pastime: watching television.

Internet use in the United States continues to climb, new research finds, and it's taking time away from another classic American pastime: watching television.

A new study conducted by the UCLA Center for Communication Policy found that 72.3 percent of Americans have Internet access, up from 66.9 percent in 2000, and that on average, Internet users spend 9.8 hours a week online.

That number is up slightly from 2000, the first year the UCLA study was conducted.

But the extra time has to come from somewhere, and it's apparently coming from television, said Jeffrey Cole, director of the center.

"Without question, Internet users are 'buying' some of their time to go online from the time they used to spend watching television," he said in a statement. Almost a quarter of adults surveyed said children living in their households watch less television since they started to use the Internet.

So what are people who spend all that time online doing? The most popular uses were e-mail and instant messaging, Web browsing, shopping, finding entertainment information, and reading news.

And while shopping ranks high on the list, consumers are growing more cautious about actually completing a purchase, the study found. Slightly more than half of Internet users made purchases online in 2000; that number dropped to 48.9 percent in 2001, according to the study. Security remains a major concern to Internet users; 28.4 percent listed it as a reason they waited to make their first online purchase.

Privacy concerns go beyond the pocketbook--and have prompted some people to stop going online altogether. 10 percent of former Internet users cited privacy issues as a reason they stopped surfing the Web.

Internet users are concerned about intrusiveness of both government and business, the study found. Concerns about private companies involve the misuses of personal data: 32.9 percent of Internet users say "businesses try to make a profit from personal information," and 27.7 percent say "businesses may sell personal information to others."