Australians are now clearly divided into the e-generation and those who choose not to actively embrace the net. The report shows that the 16-20 age group, totalling 89 per cent of users, is the e-generation's dominant "personality trait".
The report also states that only 24 per cent of women with home access had used the internet, and the number is far less in the 50-plus age group. Of those in the same group who did not have home access, only 7 per cent had used the internet.
However, Red Sheriff predicts that by February 2001, 52 per cent of Australian adults will be online, an overall growth of around 2 per cent for the next year.
With half the population using the internet, it "has become standard fare for Australians", according to Ian Lowe, general manager (Australia and New Zealand) of Red Sheriff.
With an increasing number of Australian households having access to the net, usage surpasses other popular pastimes such as walking the dog and reading the newspaper, with the average user clocking up 6.5 hours per week, according to results issued in the report.
The increase in online use and access has mainly occurred in middle and high-income households. Red Sheriff's report concludes that only 13 per cent of people from households with an annual income of $35,000 or less had used the internet.
The increase in usage is not only due to an increase in the number of Australian households with internet connections. It can also be attributed to the rate of online purchasing tripling in four years and online banking tripling in the past year; and to key growth sectors, such as the heavy use of email, information on news/sport/weather, and software upgrades.