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We are using the Internet more during the current recession

July 27, 2009

by Mark Ollig

The Pew Internet & American Life Project recently came out with a new report, which provides information on how we are using the Internet during this recession.

For many of us, using the Internet ranks high among the sources of information and advice when it comes to handling and understanding the current economic circumstances and even figuring out our own personal finances.

Pew states, 69 percent of us are using sources over the Internet to upgrade our skills, find shopping bargains, government benefits, and better investment strategies.

It is still the mainstream broadcast media which is taking priority over the Internet among all Americans for where it turns for news about national economics and related personal financial advice, per the Pew report.

Networking, through friends, family, professionals, and other information sources is one of the personal strategies Pew states we are using during these challenging times. We are trying to make sense of what is happening with the economy, and what solutions are available from all sources – including the Internet – which can help us out.

Pew states those of us who have been hit hard by the recession make up the 52 percent who have seen their investments and house values drop, and are facing struggles in the job market. The 52 percent of us represent the information seekers who are using the Internet more in this respect,than those who have not been seriously affected by the recession.

The report also finds we are using two to three information sources in order to make sense of what is happening, and to plan out our various coping strategies.

How are we coping? Well, we are talking to people, getting information from media sources, like newspapers and television; and using Internet online chat rooms. Six percent of us use blogs to learn what others are thinking, and to also engage in conversation with others to exchange concerns, experiences, information, and ideas.

Even though we have access to the Internet, Pew says their research shows only about 18 percent of us are using the Internet every day to obtain information related to the recession.

Most Internet users are reporting they use the Internet for recession-related information every few days.

Some sobering numbers by Pew in this latest report shows:

• 35 percent of all Americans have seen their investments lose more than half their value.

• 27 percent of those who are employed full time or part time have had their pay cut, their hours reduced, or lost benefits.

• 27 percent of homeowners have seen the value of their home reduced by at least half.

• 14 percent of Americans have been laid off or lost their jobs in the recession

Many of us actively participate in various Internet online social networks, discussing the recession.

Pew states, 34 percent of us have contributed content and made comments online about the recession on social networks and blogs.

When it comes to economic issues, 11 percent of us have shared video, photographs, and audio files over the Internet.

Nine percent of us have posted our comments about economic issues on many kinds of financial and news web sites.

The online social network Facebook sees 8 percent of us utilizing this source to connect with others about new employment and job opportunities. Pew also says 7 percent of us use Facebook to talk about the possibility that we, or someone we know, might be losing their job.

Twitter, which has become one of the more popular micro-blogging services over the Internet, is seeing more of us “tweeting” or texting about our nation’s economic matters, which according to Pew, is 2 percent of us.

Many sources of information are available on the Internet to help us during these difficult times.

Belonging to an online social network can also be of assistance to us through our participation in online discussions and sharing of information and resources. It is encouraging to know we are not alone in facing these difficult times, and so our online networking and contacts we obtain over the Internet can be of great benefit and comfort to many of us.

This latest Pew survey report is based on the findings of a daily tracking survey on Americans’ use of the Internet. The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted between March 26 to April 19, 2009, among a sample of 2,253 adults, 18 and older.

Pew states the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

I created a tiny URL which you can use to access this latest report from Pew Internet & American Life Project at http://tinyurl.com/ms5zyv.