Cisco study finds young 'uns need Internet to live

Up there with air, food, water, light, shelter, beer, poker and MTV

One-third of college students and young professionals consider the Internet to be a vital daily resource and requirement, just like air, water, food and shelter, according to a new Cisco study. Indeed, over half of the respondents to the Cisco study said the Internet is integral to their lives, so much so that they can't live without it... and that they'd take it over cars, dating and partying.

The 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report is based on surveys of college students and professionals 30 years old and younger in 14 countries. There were 2,800 respondents in all, 200 from each country.

The study found that, if forced to make a choice between one or the other, 64% of college student respondents would choose an Internet connection instead of a car. Forty percent said the Internet is more important to them than dating, going out with friends, or listening to music.

And 27% said staying updated on Facebook was more important than partying, dating, listening to music, or hanging out with friends. This indicates that young people are opting more for online socialization that live social interaction.

And their interface of choice? Two-thirds of students and more than half of employees say a mobile device -- laptop, smartphone or tablet -- is "the most important technology in their lives," the study found. And smartphones may soon surpass desktops as the most prevalent tool for accessing the Internet as 19% of college students consider smartphones as their "most important" device used on a daily basis, compared to 20% for desktops.

Says Cisco about this trend:

This finding fans the debate over the necessity of offices compared to the ability to connect to the Internet and work anywhere, such as at home or in public settings. In the 2010 edition of the study, three of five employees globally (60%) said offices are unnecessary for being productive.

And not surprisingly, the study found that the importance of TV and newspapers is decreasing among college students and young employees in favor of mobile devices. Only 4% of those surveyed said the newspaper is their most important tool for accessing information. And fewer than one in 10 college students and employees said the TV is the most important technology device in their daily lives.

And sadly, so sadly, one of five students have not bought a physical book -- excluding textbooks -- in a bookstore in more than two years, or never at all. One of the downsides of technology.

And in the "Just Say No" or "Just Turn It Off" Dept., college students reported constant online interruptions while doing projects or homework, such as instant messaging, social media updates and phone calls. In a given hour, 84% said they are interrupted at least once; 19% said they are interrupted six times or more; and 12% said they lose count of how many times they are interrupted while they are trying to focus on a project.

There is an "off" button on a smartphone, isn't there?

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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