Challenging the notion that the Internet isolates people, a US study released Wednesday found the World Wide Web strengthens ties with family and friends, largely because of email.
Agence France Presse quoted the Pew Internet and American Life Project report as saying that nine million US women went online for the first time in the last six months, closing the cyberspace gender gap and changing the way the Internet is used.
"This surge in Internet usage by women is also reshaping America's social landscape because women are using email to enrich their important relationships and enlarge their networks," the study said.
"Contrary to some reports that the Internet creates social isolation, this new survey shows that Internet users in general -- and online women in particular -- believe that their use of email has strengthened their relationships and increased their contact with relatives and friends."
The study found 55 million Americans go online on a typical day, 48 million send or read email, and 48 million perform at least one other activity on the Web.
Although men spend more time online and engage in more activities online, "women, more than men, say the Internet improves their family connections and increases the level of contact with family and friends," said Harrison Rainie, director of the project and former managing editor of US News and World Report.
The study, an initiative of the public opinion Pew Research Center for The People and The Press, was based on telephone interviews with 1,960 Internet users between March 1-31. The researchers said they believe it is accurate within 2.5 percentage points.
Meanwhile, in addition to the growth of women online, elderly citizens are also taking to the net in efforts to stay in touch with their grand children. Scores of Internet startups are even forming their marketing strategies around reaching out to the largest number of retired Internet surfers as possible, as this age group has the largest amount of disposable income on an individual level in the United States today -- Albawaba.com
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