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Potential Internet users vary widely in their computer skill, and many have little computer experience. Among the Home Net participants, 21% reported never having used a computer before the trial started. In contrast to the 1980s, telecommuting and other workplace applications are not the only, or even the main, reasons for this change.
All subjects signed detailed informed consent forms.
Currently, even the easiest-to-use computers and applications pose significant barriers to peoples' use of on-line services. Mobley, Handbook of Marketing Scales, Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1993. Radloff, L., The CES-D Scale: A Self-Report Depression Scale for Research in the General Population, Applied Psychological Measurement, 1: 385-401, 1977. Rockman, S., In School or Out: Technology, Equity and the Future of our Kids, Communications of the ACM, 38(6):25-29, June 1995.
This paper is an initial description of how diverse families used the Internet in the first five months of the trial, and of variables that predicted this usage.
The results have implications for design (e.g., provide more help for adults to get started), for marketing (e.g., lower income people have as much desire for on-line services as do upper income people), and for research (e.g., understand why teenagers' lead family computing).
We loaned families a computer, or if they preferred, sold it to them at half price.