BANGALORE (Reuters) - It’s not just family and friends that Americans are turning to for advice and support to cope with the prolonged recession; many have found a counselor in the Internet.
More than two-thirds of American adults — or 88 percent of U.S. Internet users — went online for help with recession-induced personal economic issues and to gather information on national economic problems, a study released on Wednesday said.
The Internet ranks high among sources of information and advice that people are seeking during hard times, especially when it comes to their personal finances and jobs, Pew Internet & American Life Project said.
“People are anxious about these hard times. They are more information-hungry than in normal times,” said Lee Rainie, director of the nonprofit group and co-author of the report, who pointed out that 79 percent of Americans were Internet users.
The current recession — considered by some to be the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s — is unprecedented as it is the first time when people had such widespread access to the world wide web.
Some 52 percent of American adults have either lost their jobs, seen their investments fall by more than half their value, suffered a pay cut or watched their house lose half its value during the downturn in the past year, according to the study, which is based on interviews with 2,253 adults.
U.S. employers cut far more jobs than expected in June and the unemployment rate hit 9.5 percent, the highest in nearly 26 years.
Creative juices have been flowing online in the down economy. Overall, 34 percent of online economic users have created content and commentary about the recession in places like blogs, social network sites and Twitter, the study found.
“That is a large number of those who are exploiting the Internet to participate in the roiling online discussion about how we got into this mess and how we are going to get out of it,” Rainie said.
Among broadband users, the Internet was the top source for material on personal coping strategies during the recession, said the study.
But broadcast media outpaced the Internet as sources of news about national economic affairs.
“It’s a mistake to think people are using only the Internet,” Rainie said. They are networking and using multiple sources, including human sources, he added.
The top three recession-related activities of these users were price comparisons, a general understanding or grasp of the economic downturn and new jobs, the study said.
Three percent of such users scoured the Internet for information about filing for bankruptcy.
Editing by Jarshad Kakkrakandy