May 8, 2002

Use of the Internet at Major Life Moments

WASHINGTON, DC–Information on the Web is important to significant numbers of Americans when they are making important choices related to education and job training, investments and big-ticket purchases, and health care for themselves or for loved ones. Online material is also important to a relatively large number of people who are looking for new jobs and new places to live.

In a survey of 1,415 Internet users in January 2002, we asked whether they had gone through any of 15 major events or decisions in the past two years. If they had, we asked whether their use of the Internet played any kind of role in the events they dealt with or in the decisions they made. Their responses showed that:

  • 14 million American Internet users who got more education or training for their career in the past two years say their use of the Internet was crucial or important in upgrading their skills.
  • 14 million Americans who purchased cars in the past two years say their use of the Internet played a crucial or important role in their decision.
  • 11 million Americans who helped a loved one deal with an illness in the past two years say their use of the Internet played a crucial or important role in their aid to another person. More than 4 million Americans say the Internet helped them cope with their own struggle with a major illness in the past two years.
  • 11 million Americans who chose a school or college for themselves or a child in the past two years say their use of the Internet played a crucial or important role in that decision.
  • 9 million Americans who made a major financial or investment decision in the past two years say their use of the Internet played a crucial or important role in that decision.
  • 8 million Americans who changed jobs in the past two years say their use of the Internet played a crucial or important role in helping them through that transition. And 8 million Americans who found new places to live say the Internet played a crucial or important role in the search.

    For more information please see the full report. The Pew Internet & American Life Project is a nonpartisan, independent research organization funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts to study the impact of the Internet on families, communities, health care, education, civic and political life, and the work place.