Indian youngsters surpass counterparts elsewhere in digital addiction levels

Every now and then, surveys on Internet behaviour — most of them their eyes set on e-commerce environment — remind us that we’re living in an increasingly wired world, that the Internet juggernaut in India is growing, outpacing all other media, and that we’re turning into digital natives.

But the third edition of the Cisco Connected World Technology Report confirms our worst fears: that we’re too wired, too dependent on our gadgets, networks and Web services, and are unapologetically addicted to our digital extension.

Titled ‘Gen Y: New dawn for work, play, identity’, the report surveys 1,800 students and young workers, and 1,800 IT professionals, across 18 countries and quizzes them on various aspects on how they connect to the Internet, how long they spend on their gadgets, and how willing they are to share their personal data on the network.

Interestingly, on many of the parameters the study covers, Indian youngsters surpass counterparts elsewhere in digital addiction levels.

Morning updates

The results are as funny as they are a cause for concern — for instance, one in five respondents say they take it along with them to the bathroom.

For starters, the survey finds that 90 per cent of ‘Gen Y’ (aged between 18 and 30) are obsessed with their smartphones: the first thing they do every morning is spend time on the network. The choice of network varies: some stick to text messages, others check if they’ve got email, and then some others (most of them) log on to social media to tell the world that they’re up and about.

Two out of five confessed that they feel “anxious, like a part of me is missing” without their smartphones. More specifically, 96 per cent of those surveyed in India (compared to a global average of 90 per cent) concede that checking updates on social networks is the first thing they do every morning.

So it’s official: we’re addicted? And are we more addicted than global tech-addicts? Apparently, yes.

While globally, 60 per cent respondents said they are hooked on to email and social networks, 70 per cent Indians said they can’t live without their ‘walls’. Of course, this syndrome is much more acute among IT professionals, where as many as 40 per cent of them say they must check up on their online avatars every 10 minutes!

Just about anywhere

By now we know that smartphones and gadgets are ubiquitous; they’re all around us. But what’s new is that the boundaries are vanishing; we’re using it in our loos (no less than 22 per cent), we’re going to bed with them (84 per cent), no doubt we’re using it to spice up our meal times (56 per cent Indians), but most disastrously, no less than 15 per cent admit that they’re texting while driving.

They’re everywhere! Smartphones are used everywhere, even in the most private of places.

The craving to stay connected means that the lines between work and social life/family life are blurring.

People check for work updates and communicate at all hours from every place imaginable.

Time is elastic: for Generation Y there are no clear markers between “the work day” and personal time, both blend and overlap throughout the day and night.

Apps, of course

We’re using smartphones — with price points getting lower, we’re fast discarding those boring feature phones — so we’re obviously doing more and expecting more out of our gadgets.

Correspondingly, the app space is growing. That 84 per cent Indians surveyed swear by their apps as a form of entertainment, compared to 70 per cent globally, comes as no surprise.

Over 60 per cent of them say they mainly use mobile applications for games and entertainment, while 33 per cent of them mainly use them for work.

Identities and privacy

So, granted. We’re all online, we’re all being ourselves on the Internet; or are we? The survey indicates that we aren’t; that there’s a disconnect between our online and offline identities.

Four out of five (81 per cent) believe that people have different online and offline identities. In India, this number is slightly higher at 87 per cent!

As thick as we draw the line between our online and offline avatars, the survey indicates that we’re not very careful with the real-world details and coordinates we share online.

A statistic that’s at great variance from the global average, 93 per cent of netizens are willing to share their email address with stores and e-commerce sites; all for a few notices and updates on a good bargain at a sale or some new discount scheme.

The global average indicates that youngsters outside the country are a tad sceptical with less than 50 per cent forthcoming with their personal data.