The Internet As Basic Necessity

For many college students and young professionals, the Internet has become a necessity of life itself. In short, about half of this population believes that life itself is impossible without the Internet, just as it would be without water or food.

These are some of the findings in the Cisco Connected World Technology Report, released September 21, 2011. Other surveys, and common sense, revealed that educated young people rely constantly on their computers, but no one knew how dearly these people regard the Internet. The report noted:

"Roughly half of Students (49%) and End Users (47%) consider the Internet to be 'close' in importance to water, food, air, and shelter in their lives; and one-third of respondents in each subgroup consider the Internet to be as important as these critical needs."

The report discovered an equally surprising result: for all the focus on new wireless devices, it's the computer that supplies young people with information. Not only is it an essential part of work and communications, but, "accessing the Internet through their computer is their primary information and news source and an integral part of their daily life."

"Both College Students and End Users indicate that their computer, specifically their laptop, is their primary way of getting information and news rather than other devices such as TV, Smartphones, or print media."

Cisco, as one of the world's largest computer companies, decided to conduct a very detailed study of computer use. As the popular computer news site, InfoWorld, described it:

"Cisco surveyed 2,853 people split roughly equally between college students and recently employed college graduates ages 21 to 29 in 14 countries. The groups were also evenly split between men and women."

So, the lesson is clear: don't get between a college student and his or her computer. And the second lesson is, the U.S. needs to redouble its efforts to improve, expand and build out its broadband capacity, not just for college students, but for everyone.

The Cisco Connected World Technology Report

Cisco: Is the Internet as important as food, water, air, shelter? (InfoWorld)