Americans Using Internet to Make Major Decisions

Americans are relying on the Internet more and more to help with big decisions in life, a new survey shows.

Some 45 percent of Internet users, or about 60 million Americans, said they sought online help to make big decisions or negotiate their way through major episodes in their lives in the previous two years, according to researchers with the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Other surveys by the researchers confirm the obvious, that the Internet is gaining in popularity. On a typical day at the end of 2005, 44 percent of the adult population went online, compared to 36 percent in January 2002.

During that time, the number of people who said the Internet played a major role in helping them cope with a major illness rose by 54 percent. Those who relied on the web to make big financial decisions increased 45 percent. Similar increases were found in people using the web to pick schools and buy homes.

"The Internet's reach in assisting Americans' decision making is striking," the researchers conclude.

An interesting bit from the study: While 15 percent of people said they sometimes felt overwhelmed by the amount of information they found, 71 percent said they had all the information they needed and thought it was manageable and 11 percent wanted more.

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