US Internet usage growth levels off

The number of Internet users in the United States expanded much more slowly during the past two years compared with previous years, but many of the 126 mln people who are online are becoming more attached to the Web. The number of Americans who access their bank accounts online more than doubled between 2000 and 2002, to 34 mln people, the study said. Affluent, educated people are more likely to bank online. Online auction activity nearly doubled during the past three years, while music downloading climbed 71%, to 36 mln people who’ve done so as of about a year ago.

Searches for medical, political and spiritual information account for a growing number of Web queries, as do work and school-related activities, the study found. The instant-messaging community grew by about a third from 2000 to 2002, to 52 mln. Instant messaging is particularly popular among teenagers and young adults, the survey said. Online news searching is also on the rise, with 50% more people doing it as of a year ago compared with March 2000. Major news events, such as the 2000 presidential election and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, have fueled online news consumption, the study suggested.

Almost two-thirds of American adults used the Internet as of August, and more than 66 mln go online on any given day, according to the study. Nearly a third of the people who use the Web from home have a high-speed connection, the study said. The U.S Web population is split nearly evenly between men and women, while seniors and blacks are less likely to log on.

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