Internet use keeping us from our families

The Internet is keeping us away from our beds, TVs and families according to a survey published Monday.

Continental Research's fifth annual report into Internet and e-commerce usage has found that people are logging on the Internet in ever-increasing numbers. According to the survey 40 percent of the UK population have access to the Net and around 11.1 million (24 percent) log on once a month or more.

Internet use is replacing traditional leisure activities, with 49 percent of respondents claiming they make fewer phone calls since they have been surfing. 33 percent prefer surfing to watching TV, while 11 percent claim their Internet use is keeping them up at night and away from their families.

E-commerce is proving a winner with the British public according to the survey with £2bn or £170 per user spent online in the last 12 months. 56 percent of users have bought a book online (up from just 17 percent the previous year). Online financial and travel services have also become more popular but shopping for clothes has become less so. 12 percent bought clothes online in 1998, down to 9 percent this year.

Most online shoppers are still occasional rather than habitual buyers, with the average users buying just four items online per year. Despite its growing user base the majority of Internet users remain white and male according to the survey. 65 percent of users are male and online families tend to be white and middle class with an average income of around £40,000.