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Internet

Women clean up Internet's act

As more women use the Net, the percentage of surfers visiting adult sites is falling.

As more women use the Internet, the percentage of Net surfers who visit so-called adult sites is declining, according to a recently released PC-Meter survey from The NPD Group.

The cause and effect relationship is not absolutely clear, but the survey does show that the number of women on the Net is up and that the popularity of sex-related sites is down.

"We're trying to figure out what it's about," said Pamela Smith, NPD's vice president of sales. "The fact that more women are on the Net could contribute to it," she added, referring to the downgraded ranking of several well-known adult-oriented sites.

Here are the numbers, acording to the PC-Meter survey:
--Men account for 87 percent of all visitors to sex sites. --Women accounted for 38.7 percent of all Net users in April, up from 31.7 percent in January.
--A mere 19.4 percent of Web-active home PC users visited sex sites in April, down from 24.7 percent in January. Only the Playboy site managed to stay in PC-Meter's list of top-50 Web sites in April, while Penthouse took a tumble, drawing a paltry 3 percent of surfers, compared with its 8.1 percent in January.

Other theories: the novelty factor has worn off as Net users decide that such sites as Hot Sex aren't worth a second peep. And the amount of content on the Web has mushroomed, creating more options.

"There's more [content]," said Marleen McDaniel, CEO of Women's Wire. "Maybe the militia and the porn are not a controlling majority in the overall population. If visits to sex sites are shrinking, this is not so different from having mainstream movie theaters showing Mission Impossible or The Rock, vs. going to the X-rated theaters," McDaniel added. "They're being pushed into the corner."

Sex sites aren't in danger of extinction, by any means. Bert Fornacari, whose Web 21 site lists the 100 most popular non-adult destinations, says the list turns up 15 to 20 adult sites from its list every week and turns them into a second list of top adult sites. Start-up Web 21 doesn't have any comparative figures from several months ago, however.

The survey offered one other piece of trivia. The average time spent at an adult content site is 11 minutes.

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