The internet has become more than just an entertainment resource with sex on the net going into relative decline.

Surfers are getting more serious about their surfing habits, according to researchers at US-based Penn State University.

The study, which spanned over five years, shows that back in 1997 almost a fifth of all queries submitted to the search engine Excite were sex-related.

By last year, only one in twelve people were performing sex-related searches, and the majority of these were for medical rather than pornographic reasons.

But although the figures show a move away from porn towards employment and travel searches, which rose by 24 percent in 2001 alone, the figures are based solely on the number of people searching for porn and not viewing porn sites.

"Porn queries have declined and e-commerce queries have increased," said one of the report's researchers Amanda Spink. "[In the future] people will be using the web for e-commerce, shopping and educational programs."

Porn sites are way down on the list of most visited sites, according to research by JupiterMMXI, with MSN and ticket booking services the most popular.

With the rise of spam messaging many more people are now accessing porn sites via direct mailing, reducing the number of searchers.

"People are accessing porn sites through a number of sources," said a spokesman at search engine Google. "That isn't necessarily a direct indication that the number of people actually surfing porn sites has dropped."

The study also confirmed that we are becoming more impatient.

The number of people who searched just one page for the results of their query has doubled, with 70 percent of users refusing to go beyond two pages of results.

"Our study indicates that a significant percentage of users continue to have low tolerance for wading through large retrievals," said Spink. "Many people tend to take the first thing they get, no matter what the quality, to save time."