The Internet is a lifeline for Asian mothers, with a survey finding two-thirds use it to shop for themselves and their children and an even bigger number going online to research purchases and talk about them.

The study, by Microsoft Advertising and Starcom MediaVest Group, showed that mothers ultimately hold the purse-strings in the region, influencing purchasing decisions ranging from household staples to big-ticket items such as cars.

And their resource of choice to make these purchases is the Internet, with 58 percent saying they used online networks and online customer reviews before actually buying.

Mums have become the one-stop shop for family purchases, and brands need to be aware of this influence, Kenneth Andrew, managing director of Microsoft Advertising Greater Asia Pacific, told reporters.

Mothers are becoming increasingly digitally savvy, and conversely, much more cynical of advertising.

The survey was based on interviews with about 3,000 mothers in eight markets -- China, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and South Korea. The respondents ranged from pregnant women to mothers with teenage children.

On average, the survey found that Asian mothers spend 17 hours a week online, and the sites they visited ranged from those offering media, such as music and video download sites, to social networks, to sites specifically catered to children.

But largely, the online activities of mothers depended on the age of their children, with expectant women relying on sites that allow them to interact with other mothers, while those with older children rely on the web for email and searches.

The research was intended to help advertisers focus on a demographic Andrew said had been so far neglected in Asia.

There is an opportunity for mothers to become an unofficial brand ambassador, as they love to share their views and are very influential, he said.

(Reporting by Miral Fahmy, editing by Sugita Katyal)