The Study
An introduction to this study of family use of the Internet.

The Families
Feature stories reflecting the Internet's impact on study participants' lives.

The Diaries
Statistics reported by people taking part in the project.

The Researchers
Janna Q. Anderson of the Elon School of Communications and 25 student researchers compiled this study.

The Neighborhood
Details about the town of Elon, N.C. and the neighborhood in this study.

Elon University

Pew Internet & American Life Project

"This is the generation gap between us; his generation grew up with classic cars and working hard to make ends meet; my generation is very technologically bound. The Internet is just one of the tools that will lead us for generations to come." - Mike Holt

Mike Holt Mike Holt

Immediately the lights go on and the HP computer is fired up. The stereo is blasting to the sounds of Marvin Gaye or the Stone Temple Pilots CD.

I click to get on a dial-up connection that is as fast as molasses running uphill on a cold day. The Prodigy Web browser pulls up, and I am off to the races trying to find the particular site that I am curious about that day.

With Marvin singing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," I check to see if the N.C. State Wolfpack play on television today or if I have to listen to radio station 1200 AM, the Wolfpack sports station for the game.

Five years online

I have been "online" for about five years now. My first experience with the Internet was my freshman year at N.C. State University. I had an Internet connection in my dorm room.

I purchased my first computer my freshman year as well. It was a HP computer that was state-of-the-art until the moment I walked out of the store with it. A Pentium I processor with 36 megabytes of RAM is a dinosaur to today's computers.

I have since upgraded to a Pentium II with 366-megahertz processing speed. My first real assignment or task on the Internet was to look up class material and check my e-mail account at school. As I got interested in the Internet and found out that I could look up just about anything, I explored more and more each time I connected.

I would look up sports news, my favorite clothing stores, concert information and Web sites that I would see in the newspaper or magazines. I even looked up information about Elon University when I decided to transfer during my junior year at N.C. State.

Big changes in a small amount of time

My Internet use has changed rapidly over the past five years. Now I check my e-mail two to three times daily. I like to log on to ESPN.com and check out sports stats and see how my favorite team is doing.

I belong to a sports fantasy league on ESPN.com. During the football season, I like to check the Washington Redskins homepage to see who the team plays and read the injury reports that are posted.

This past high school football season, I followed the Western Alamance High School team and checked the scores of area teams on Ihigh.com to see who made the playoffs and how the playoff brackets were made. I continue to check the N.C. State Wolfpack homepage weekly to see what teams their teams are playing and check out how they are doing in the ACC.

Checking the list and making it right

The Internet was a big help this past Christmas. My girlfriend sent me a shopping list online to make sure that I found the perfect gifts for her. This was a great help in deciding whether to get the gray sweater from American Eagle or the blue shirt from Abercrombie.

The Internet has revolutionized today's shopping market and will probably be a primary source for shopping in the near future. I bought gifts from Old Navy.com online, and got great ideas from the Bestbuy.com, Abercrombie and American Eagle Web sites.

My father collects classic cars and restores them to their original look. Recently, he began collecting model car versions of his prized possessions. I went online to www.Yatming.com and found both blue and red 1957 Ford Thunderbirds to add to his collection on his birthday. I could not decide on which color to get, so I purchased both of them. What a relief it was to find these gifts online.

A great resource for teachers

My girlfriend is an 8th-grade language arts teacher. This is her first year teaching, and she has found the Internet to be a useful tool in making lesson plans and finding information.

She uses www.homestead.com and www.ncdpl.com to make her lessons and post homework assignments on the Web. She is teaching her students about Edgar Allen Poe, and finds Yahoo.com very useful in finding information about him.

She can find information quickly on the Internet - she doesn't have to spend hours searching through books for something that can be found online in minutes.

Teaching the new to the old

My parents have not caught on to the computer era or the Internet for that matter. My father is still learning how to use Windows. We work together at AllState Insurance and have just upgraded our computer systems. We went from a DOS-based system to Windows in a matter of days.

My father is still confused about using the mouse and getting from one screen to the next. He has not tried to venture online yet, but I am sure that will be an experience. He gets so frustrated with the computer, and it all seems so natural for me.

This is the generation gap between us: my father's generation grew up with classic cars and working hard to make ends meet; my generation is very technologically bound. The Internet is just one of the tools that will lead us for decades to come.

The Internet has been a great tool in helping me find important sports news and shopping ideas. It has saved me from spending countless hours roaming around in stores without an idea for a present. I have become Internet-savvy over the last five years, and I am certainly glad that I was introduced to this brilliant idea.


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