A mother of three frantically tries to check off daily activities as her busy day closes in. Just across the street, another working mother finishes twice as fast. For her, working through daily activities is relatively easy because she uses the Internet.

With hectic schedules and many commitments, Americans are “buying time” with the Internet. Whether it’s ordering presents, paying bills or balancing checkbooks, the World Wide Web can help. For those who aren’t so Internet-savvy, typing in what you are looking for on a search engine yields quick results. For example, type in the phrase “balance checkbook online” and hundreds of Web sites geared toward online banking pop up on the screen.

The Internet offers a shortcut to those who don’t want to stand in long lines at shopping centers. Just about anything you can purchase in person is available online also. Log on to any department store’s Web site, fill out an order form, confirm your credit card number, click a button and the order is on it’s way without you ever leaving your home.

For Kelly Keets, working mother of two, it’s a blessing.

“I just don’t have time to go out and buy gifts,” Keets told EthicsDaily.com. “But, I can go online anytime and pick out an item and have it gift wrapped and delivered.”

Baby shower gifts and wedding presents are often ordered online. Automobiles can even be ordered online. Type in the car model you want along with the year, and you are well on your way to becoming a new car owner.

“I’m thinking about buying my next car on the Internet,” college student David Matsumoto told EthicsDaily.com. “If I buy the car online, I don’t have to deal with annoying salesmen.”

Many people are first introduced to the Internet through e-mail, according to the Center for Internet Studies. By e-mailing friends and family members, you don’t have to buy postage stamps or pay for long-distance phone calls. Whether used for personal messages to friends or for business purposes, e-mail is a great time- and money-saver.

Along with the benefits of e-mail, the Internet is also a great source for chatting about your favorite pastime or the hottest new pop band. Chats work like conference calling via the Internet. You simply type in your message, and it is delivered immediately to the person with whom you are “chatting.” That person can reply to your message in seconds.

If chats do not appeal to you, listening to virtually any radio station across the world might. Many radio stations are online, and you can listen to them 24/7.

If you miss your native radio station since moving, you can log on and listen along while cleaning the house. Also, if you are interested in buying music from an online store like www.amazon.com, log on to hear song selections from most CDs.

The Internet has also become an invaluable research tool. For example, www.rx.com lists every prescription drug imaginable along with side-effects. You can read what doctors say about drugs and current medical topics on health sites. It should not, of course, take the place of going to see a doctor, but the Internet can add to your understanding of medical issues.

As with anything, the Internet is also capable of being abused. The Center for Internet studies has launched a site, www.virtual-addiction.com, to prevent Internet addictions.

“The internet clearly has a role to play in today’s information age and will become increasingly important in our communications, our work life and our daily activities,” the site read. “However, the very nature of the internet also lends itself to abuse, leading people to exhibit behaviors that are counterproductive and isolating.”

The Center for Internet Studies advises that the Internet should not become one’s only social outlet for this very reason.

Like anything good, moderation is the key to Internet use. With proper use, however, it can help accomplish many daily tasks.

Melissa Giorgi is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tenn.

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