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9/21/2007
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Americans Can Go Without Sex Longer Than The Internet, Study Finds

If they can't access the Internet when they want to, Americans say they worry that they're missing out on something important.

Not tonight, Honey. I'm online.

Sound familiar? A survey of about 1,000 Americans showed that the Internet has become such an essential part of their every-day lives that 28% said they spend less time socializing with friends because of it. And 20% said they spend less time having sex because they're too busy online, according to a study by advertising agency JWT.

"It's clear that there's been a huge cumulative shift in what we do and what we pay attention to, thanks to new technologies," said Bob Jeffrey, chairman and CEO of JWT, in a written statement. "Increasingly, you will see the emergence of truly passionate 'digitivity denizens,' or people who thrive in a technology-enabled universe. They see their cell phones as extensions of themselves, their online and offline lives are co-mingled, and they would choose a Wi-Fi connection over television any day. Trending younger, these are people who don't distinguish between old and new media -- in fact, new media is not thought of as new, it's just media."

According to JWT, only 17% of the 1,011 online Americans who participated in the survey said they willingly had gone without connectivity for more than two weeks within the past year. When asked how long they would feel OK without online access, 15% of respondents said just a day or less, 21% said a couple of days and another 19% said a few days.

About half of people 35 and older said if they can't access the Internet when they want to, they feel like something important is missing.

The survey showed that time spent with new digital technologies eats into time spent watching television or listening to the radio. Forty-four percent said they spend less time with print newspapers and magazines, and 47% watch less TV, though that number jumps to 52% for those under 35. And fully half of respondents say they now spend less time shopping in actual brick-and-mortar stores.

However, traditional media isn't the only ones taking a hit. JWT noted that respondents said being online cuts into physical activities, face-to-face socializing and, yes, even sex.

Is there anything they spend more time doing? Yup. Work. According to the study, 22% said new technologies have led to more work.

The study also showed that people who didn't grow up with interactive digital technology tend to see online and offline as separate worlds. For people immersed in the technology, though, there's no big distinction. Online is just part of normal life, like a car and TV, they noted.

The new digital divide is all about mobility, according to JWT.

"Now it's connectivity with mobility that marks the digital generation divide," said Marian Salzman, a JWT spokesman in a written statement. "Older Americans are happy to sit in the same place to go online, while younger people expect to be able to connect anywhere at any time, without being tethered to a particular location or time frame. Mobility represents the next big shift."

For those respondents younger than 35, 78% said they don't own a desktop computer, compared with 93% of those older than 55. Instead, 61% of the under-35s own a laptop, compared with 36% of those over 55.

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