- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 28, 2004

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK

Nearly half of U.S. Internet users say they could not go without the Web for more than two weeks, with many suffering “withdrawal” symptoms while offline, according to a recent survey.

The “Internet Deprivation Study” released last week by Yahoo and media group OMD found many experienced life offline more difficult than they expected, because the tools and services that the Internet offers were firmly ingrained in their daily lives.

The survey found that many Web users felt impaired in daily activities such as booking travel, checking sports scores, communicating with friends and family, and paying bills when they could not access the Internet.

“This study is entirely indicative of the myriad ways that the Internet, in just 10 short years of mainstream consumer consumption, has irrevocably changed the daily lives of consumers,” said Wenda Harris Millard, chief sales officer for Yahoo.

“This is true to the extent that it was incredibly difficult to recruit participants for this study, as people weren’t willing to be without the Internet for two weeks.”

Researchers at Ipsos-Reid and Conifer Research said participants in the study “experienced withdrawal and feelings of loss, frustration and disconnectedness when cut off from the online world,” according to a summary of the report.

“Users described their time offline as ‘feeling left out of the loop,’ having to ‘resist temptation’ and missing their ‘private escape time’ during the day.”

Survey participants “often forgot or lost the desire to use ‘old-fashioned tools’ like the phone book, newspapers and telephone-based customer service,” the report said.

“Despite the fact that they may need to call friends to make arrangements or read the daily newspaper to find out news, participants expressed that they looked unproductive and lazy to their colleagues when engaged in these activities using traditional means.”

Simply recruiting participants turned out being more difficult than imagined, even though households were paid $950 to take part in the study.

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