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11/24/2003
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Survey Puts Nearly One-Third Of Americans In "Tech Elite"

The Pew Internet & American Life Project finds 31% of those surveyed find the Internet, cell phones, and handlhelds are more indispensible than TVs and wired phones.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Technology geeks, unite. There are more of you than you might have realized.

A study released Sunday found that 31 percent of Americans are "highly tech-savvy" people for whom the Internet, cell phones, and handheld organizers are more indispensable than TVs and old-fashioned wired phones.

John Horrigan, author of the report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, said the size of this "tech elite" was somewhat surprising. And while this group is predominantly young, the Pew researchers found plenty of baby boomers and seniors who are equally ardent about using technology.

The difference, though, is that techies in their late teens and 20s are more likely to create online content, like Web logs, or "blogs." Generation Xers are more likely to pay for content on the Web, while wired boomers and seniors generally plumb the Internet for news or to do work-related research.

Among the Pew findings on the "tech elite":

-- They spend, on average, a total of $169 a month on broadband Internet service, satellite, or cable TV, cell phones and Web content. That is 39 percent higher than the national average, $122.

-- Some 29 percent have broadband connections, compared with 17 percent of everyone else.

-- About 7 percent have canceled their landline telephone and gone all-wireless. Only 2 percent of nontechies have done that.

-- Despite being plugged in to the Internet and other sources of data more often, only 13 percent of the tech-savvy crowd feels overwhelmed by information. By contrast, a sense of information overload plagues 25 percent of the rest of the population.

So why do the people who immerse themselves in information feel less besieged by it?

It could be that technology helps some people organize or take control of their lives, Horrigan said. Or maybe some are simply better at knowing "what to do and how to cope with the information that is flooding at them," he said.

Pew produced the report after surveying 1,677 American adults in October. The survey has a margin of error of two percentage points.

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