The online line between studying and copying may be blurring. CBS found that 90% of US teenagers use the web to research school assignments, and 57% of them say they do so frequently.

Hot on the heels of last week’s survey on teen Internet use from BurstMedia, comes a new poll showing that the Internet has become an integral part of teen study habits.

On the downside of studying online, the survey found that 20% of US teens admit to having used the Internet to plagiarize material for school assignments. Asked if they had cheated at least once, 24% of the boys and 14% of the girls owned up. But CBS researchers believe those figures may be low.

"Survey respondents sometimes find it difficult to admit to an interviewer they’ve done things that are illegal or unethical. While teenagers might be less susceptible than adults to this, there’s a good chance the actual percentage might be higher," said Kathleen Frankovic of CBS.

In addition, the poll confirmed many commonly held beliefs about teen Internet use. About two-thirds of them e-mail and more than half go online to download music.

However, asking the question two different ways, the two polls found that the Internet was not quite as important to teens as might be expected.

When Burst asked teens what impact no Internet access (outside of school) would have on their day, 28.9% said it would "ruin" their day, but 31.2% said they "would be just fine" without online access. CBS asked teens how being deprived of technology for a week — including cell phones, iPods and computers — would affect them, and 57% said it wouldn’t matter either way to them. In fact, 10% said they would feel relieved. Of course, about a third said they would be lost without technology for a week.

Both polls also found that the Internet is unquestionably emerging as a major social tool for teens. CBS found that nearly half of US teens post on social networking websites such as Facebook or MySpace at least occasionally. In similar findings, the Burst survey showed that roughly three out of five US teens had visited a social networking website, and 60% of them actually joined and created a profile.

In a finding that may surprise many observers, CBS reports that shopping online is not a big activity for teens. A mere 6% of teens said they went online frequently to shop, compared to 75% who said they rarely or never shopped online.

More here.