New Zealanders are using the internet to near saturation levels, accessing it several times a day at work and home for everything from consumer decision-making to social networking, a survey has found.
The World Internet Project New Zealand Report found New Zealanders' lives were markedly influenced by the internet, with 73 per cent saying daily use was very important.
The report said internet use in New Zealand was approaching saturation. Almost everyone aged under 40 was online, and many of them were logging in for more than three hours a day.
And their behaviour is being shaped by the technology which gives access to the internet, including iPads, mobile phones, gaming consoles, smart TVs, and tablets.
People of all ages are accessing the internet for entertainment, using it as a tool for consumer decision-making by looking for product information online, for social networking, making online phone calls, streaming music, downloading apps, and storing files on the cloud - a remote server.
It highlighted the extensive reach of the internet in people's lives, with it used for watching videos and TV on demand, downloading music and listening to radio, playing games, looking for humorous content, looking at sites with sexual content and gambling, all performed online.
Information seeking was high through the use of search engines, looking for news, fact finding or checking, word definition, and searching social networking sites.
Internet confidence was also at a high with 67 per cent of users giving themselves top marks for their ability to navigate the internet.
The majority of the 1847 people surveyed accessed the internet at home (98 per cent), but people also used it at work, school or university, in other people's homes, in libraries and internet cafes.
Four out of five users spend an hour or more online every day and 81 per cent of respondents rated the internet as an important or very important source of information, compared with offline media: television (47 per cent), and radio and newspapers (37 per cent).
The report, part of the international World Internet Project, was completed by AUT's Institute of Culture, Discourse and Communication.
It showed the internet and types of technologies used to access it were dramatically shaping people's lives and behaviours and making information more immediate than ever.
Lead researcher Professor Allan Bell of AUT said internet use in New Zealand had almost reached saturation point. The fact that 70 per cent of users in the survey accessed the internet with a hand-held mobile device at least some of the time meant people could find and share information and communicate with each other "anywhere, anytime".