Fueled in part by the Web’s increasing role in the lives of mothers, the Internet has become a force in bringing American families closer together, according to a study conducted by Cyber Dialogue for Disney’s Family.com.
More than half (53 percent) of those polled said that the Web has actually brought their family closer. In addition to using the Web for educational purposes (92 percent call the Web a great educational tool for their children), 90 percent of respondents also indicate that the Internet is an important source of their leisure time and entertainment. In addition, 84 percent of respondents said they enjoy going online with their children.
Women, who make up nearly 50 percent of the online population and are most often the core of the family unit, play an especially critical role in making the Internet a central point for families, the survey found. For many — especially moms — the Internet is their preferred medium because it is uniquely suited to meet their specific daily needs. Chief among these are saving precious time, assisting in their role as family gatekeeper, and being able to quickly source the answers they need to care for their families. Eighty-five percent said the Web helped them simplify their lives, 90 percent said it was a great tool for saving time, and 85 percent say they like getting information from the Internet because it “puts me in control.” Ninety-two percent say the Internet is an important source of leisure time and entertainment, demonstrating that women are turning to the Web for fun, as well as function.
According to the survey, 88 percent of women rely more and more on the Web for parental guidance and ideas, saying they are always looking for new things they can do with their kids. Eighty-four percent say they enjoy going online with their children — pointing to trusted family sites as the place to reach kids and parents alike. During the past six months, 86 percent say they made an online purchase while 85 percent said they clicked on an online ad.
The study’s findings also show how the Web has essentially become a focal point in the American home by providing new ways to communicate, interact, imagine and learn
“The Internet constantly renews the way we look at what connects us, and will continue to do so as long as there’s imagination in the world,” said Ken Goldstein, executive vice president and managing director at Disney Online. “This research looks to be telling us that the Web enables and promotes family interaction as much or more than any other medium that has come before it — and that’s why the Internet has become the new family hearth.” Among the survey’s findings:
- Busy moms are using the Internet more and more with their family in mind. A whopping 96 percent identified the Internet as a great tool/resource for finding answers to questions they have about their children and family.
- Kids have a strong influence over their parents’ online habits and purchases. More than 50 percent of respondents said their child has influenced them to purchase a product from a Web site and 42 percent have been influenced by their child to click on an online ad.
- Over three-quarters of the study’s respondents (77 percent) indicate that they spend less time watching television as a result of their Internet use, and 84 percent say they enjoy getting information from the Internet more than from other sources.
- The Internet has become the predominant form of mass media for Web-savvy men and women. In fact, the amount of time they spend online is now equal to the amount of time spent watching television (approximately 16.1 hours per week spent online versus 16.0 hours per week watching cable and network television).
The study, conducted over the past three months, involved an online sample of 2,010 respondents, who were screened and weighted to be representative of online visitors.