More low-income people discovering the Net

In the United States, more underserved and economically distressed people

are tapping into the Internet, according to a study by Media Metrix Inc.,

an Internet market research firm.

The number of Internet users with annual household incomes of less than

$25,000 has grown by nearly 50 percent in the 12-month period ending in

June. During the same period, there was a 27 percent growth for users earning

$75,000 or higher.

However, the report, "The Dollar Divide," said the lower-income group

still represents only 10 percent of the overall Internet-using population,

even though it constitutes about one-third of the total U.S. population.

According to the report, lower- income users are less experienced and

therefore spend more time online — about 13 hours a month — and view more

unique content pages than other income groups. The report said higher- income

users spend about nine hours a month and view fewer pages.

The report said lower-income users visited Internet career and auction

sites, while higher-income users surfed hobby, leisure, auto and travel

sites.

Based on a survey of 55,000 people, the study said lower costs of computers,

increased "technological ease of use," and improved Web access in professional,

academic and community environments are contributing to a narrowing of the

digital divide.

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