Net Growth: From the Mouse of Babes

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We're glad all 79 million of you could join us. According to new research from the Nielsen people, that's the number of Internet-using adults in North America today -- an increase of 21 million, or 36 percent, since this time last year. But such explosive growth is not the whole story, for the real architects of the online boom have not been counted. It is web-savvy kids who are propelling their parents into cyberspace, and the researchers know it: "It is more likely for an adult to be an Internet user if there are children in the house," admitted a Nielsen spokesman.

So now that a full third of the adult population -- and more than 50 percent of those between 16 and 34 -- have caught on, the future of e-commerce is bright, right? Not quite. For while women are climbing toward parity with men in terms of Internet usage, it's still the boys who are making most of those Amazon and Peapod purchases. And every mall-bound husband knows who really holds the key to the family finances. Still, at least Neilsen is savvy enough to make a pretty penny out of the report. You can buy it online -- for a cool $5,000.