Search engine AltaVista has been taking a peek at just what surfers are looking for on the net with its latest survey.

It turns out that the net is fast replacing friends and family when it comes to where we turn for advice. AltaVista found that when people wanted information on a new personal interest, such as a sport or social group, 30 percent would look to the web instead of their best mate. In fact under a quarter — 26 percent — would seek inspiration from their friends.

Despite using it for advice on how to improve personal contentment, the net is also a means of distraction from the deeper questions in life, according to AltaVista's findings. One in five (22 percent) of surfers use the internet to look up trivial facts to avoid focusing on those things they consider more important.

We thought these findings were more than a little scary as it shows web users turning the net into a surrogate social group — but we reckon that a PC won't provide much of a shoulder to cry on when your partner dumps you for spending too much time surfing the web.

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