- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2003

A growing number of Americans would rather surf the Web than channel surf.

More than a third of Americans are more likely to download music, create a Web page or edit a digital movie than watch television, says a report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

This group, which Pew calls the “technology elite,” is starting to abandon traditional forms of communication for cell phones, personal digital assistants and other wireless devices.

The technology elite spends $169 per month — 39 percent more than the average American — on high-speed Internet service, cable or satellite television and Internet content.

They are comprised primarily of “wired Gen-Xers” and are an average age of 36. But twentysomethings make up one-fifth of the group, and even baby boomers in their 50s are active users of new technology, Pew said.

Most Americans now have access to multiple information services and devices. The Internet, cable TV and cell phones are present in at least 60 percent of American homes, and digital video disc players and recorders have been adopted rapidly.

Because of this onslaught of new technologies, more traditional forms of entertainment are becoming less important to many Americans, Pew said.

“Television tends to take the hit,” said John Horrigan, a senior research specialist at Pew and author of the report. “These new things take away from something, and it tends to be television.”

Some respondents said it would be harder to give up their computers or the Internet than television. About 74 percent said it would be very difficult to live without their computers, compared with 48 percent for cable television.

Older members of the tech elite said they would have trouble abandoning all television, but could live without cable. About 50 percent of baby boomers who use the Internet said it would be hard to give up television, and 25 percent said it would be difficult to live without cable.

Younger tech elites in particular are more likely to abandon land-line telephones. This trend is expected to continue, Mr. Horrigan said, after the Federal Communication Commission’s decision allowing a switch from home phone numbers to cell phones.

The tech elite say there isn’t enough time in the day for both television and the Interent, and more often the Web wins out.

Traditional print media did not fare well in the survey. Only 19 percent of respondents to the Pew survey said they would find it hard to give up newspapers and 13 percent said it would be difficult to abandon their favorite magazines.

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