Nearly half of U.S. users of the Internet went online for help with major life decisions such as finding a college for their child or looking for a new place to live, according to a survey released Wednesday.
The results show that the Internet is becoming increasingly important to users in their everyday lives, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, a non-profit group which conducted the survey.
Some 45 percent of Internet users, or an estimated 60 million Americans, said the Internet helped them make big decisions or face a major moment in their life during the previous two years, the survey found. That was up from 40 percent of Internet users who answered the same survey questions in 2002.
Specifically, the survey asked 2,201 adults last month if the Internet played a crucial or important role in making at least one of eight major life decisions.
An estimated 21 million Americans turned to the Internet when seeking more training for a career, while 17 million used it to choose a school for a family member or to help another person with a major illness, the Pew Internet group said.
Some 16 million Americans used the Internet when buying a car or making a major investment or financial decision, it said. An estimated 10 million Americans used the Internet when looking for a new place to live; 8 million when changing jobs; and 7 million when dealing with their own major illness or health condition, the survey said.
"It seems likely that the convenience of broadband draws more users to the Internet to deal with some decision," the Pew Internet group said.
However, better online content and more widely advertised web sites may also contribute to the rising use of the Internet with major life decisions, it said.