Cisco Study Finds Internet As Vital As Food And Air

A new report has suggested that many people now regard the Internet as such an important part of our lives, that it is as vital as water, food and even air.

So said the “2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report” from Cisco Systems.

It found that more than half the study’s respondents said they could not live without the Internet and cite it as an “integral part of their lives” – in some cases more crucial than cars, dating, and – horror of horrors – partying.

Fundamental Requirement

One of every three college students and employees surveyed globally (33 percent) believes the Internet is a fundamental resource for the human race – as important as air, water, food and shelter. Nearly half (49 percent of college students and 47 percent of employees) believe it is “pretty close” to that level of importance. Combined, four of every five college students and young employees believe the Internet is vitally important as part of their daily lives’ sustenance.

Two-thirds of students (66 percent) and more than half of employees (58 percent) cite a mobile device (laptop, smartphone or tablet) as “the most important technology in their lives.” In addition, smartphones are poised to surpass desktops as the most prevalent tool from a global perspective, as 19 percent of college students consider smartphones their “most important” device used on a daily basis, compared with 20 percent for desktops – an indication of the growing trend of smartphone prominence and the expected rise in usage by the next generation of college graduates upon entering the workforce.

The finding also suggests the increasing prevalence – and sometimes intrusion – of social networking in daily life.

About nine out of 10 (91 percent) college students and employees (88 percent) globally said they have a Facebook account; of those, 81 percent of college students and 73 percent of employees check their Facebook pages at least once a day. A third said they check them at least five times a day.

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, more than four out of five (84 percent) college students said they are interrupted at least once. About one in five students (19 percent) said they are interrupted six times or more – an average of at least once every 10 minutes. Additionally, 12 percent said they lose count how many times they are interrupted while they are trying to focus on a project.

Friending the Boss

In a sign that the boundary between work and personal lives is becoming thinner, seven of 10 employees “friended” their managers and/or co-workers on Facebook. Culturally, the United States featured lower percentages of employees friending managers and co-workers – only about 23 percent – although 40 percent friended their co-workers.

The global study consists of two surveys – one involving college students, the other on young professionals in their 20s. Each survey includes 100 respondents from each of 14 countries, resulting in a pool of 2,800 respondents. “The lifestyles of ‘prosumers’ – the blending of professionals and consumers in the workplace – their technology expectations and their behaviour toward information access is changing the nature of communications on a global basis,” noted Dave Evans, Cisco’s chief futurist.

The second annual “Cisco Connected World Technology Report” examines the relationship between human behaviour, the Internet and networking’s pervasiveness.

It uses this relationship to provoke thoughts around how companies will remain competitive amid the influence of technology lifestyle trends. The global report, based on surveys of college students and professionals 30 years old and younger in 14 countries, provides insight into present-day challenges that companies face as they strive to balance current and future employee and business needs amid increasing mobility capabilities, security risks, and technologies – from virtualised data centres and cloud computing to traditional wired and wireless networks – that can deliver information ubiquitously.

Nathan Eddy

Nathan Eddy is a contributor to eWeek and TechWeekEurope, covering cloud and BYOD

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