Americans Anxious When Disconnected From the Web

The majority of those surveyed also displayed a lack of understanding of how the Internet works, where it comes from and who owns it.

americans and web usage

One in four Americans admit they wouldn’t survive more than five hours without using the Internet in their daily life, and more than half (54 percent) admitted feelings of fear, anger and anxiety when disconnected from the Internet, according to a global report from Tata Communications.

The company conducted the study to explore the behavioral patterns and technical knowledge of Internet users around the world and their emotional connection to the web, capturing responses of more than 9,400 people across six countries, including France, Germany, India, Singapore, the United States and the United Kingdom.

"The Internet has changed the way we live. It now permeates our working and social lives – it has become a utility, and we depend on it just as we do for water or electricity," Julie Woods-Moss, chief marketing officer and CEO of Tata Communications’ Nextgen Business, told eWEEK. "As we become more Web-focused, far-reaching changes in human behavior and people’s use of technology are requiring even more access to bandwidth heavy activities such as two-way video, connectivity for wearable computers, and the advent of the personal drone device."

Woods-Moss said that while these are exciting digital experiences for all of us, they are also putting our network infrastructures under strain and could potentially ignite added fear and anxiety.

While 9 percent of U.S. respondents between the ages of 15-45 spend more than 12 hours a day on the Internet, the majority displayed a lack of understanding of how the Internet works, where it comes from, and who owns it.

"A better understanding of the Internet is likely to improve the appreciation of the Internet and its capabilities leading to new and innovative ways to incorporate digital resources into daily activities," Woods-Moss said. "Surveys like this are a great first step to educate people about how the Internet works, and as a global communications provider, we are committed to understanding people’s perceptions and relationships to the Internet and sharing our expertise and knowledge around the world."

American respondents were the least inspired by wearable technology, with interest hovering around 11 percent, and 29 percent of U.S. respondents consider light speed connectivity the most inspirational opportunity that the Internet will facilitate in the next 3-5 years, followed by real life video communications (22 percent), smart cities (20 percent) and automated products (17 percent).

"With experts predicting wearable tech to be the next big thing in consumer electronics, we were surprised that American respondents were least inspired by wearable technology as the greatest opportunity that the Internet will facilitate in the next three to five years, with interest hovering around 11 percent," she said.

The survey also found almost 30 percent of 15- to 35-year-old Americans would give up traditional television for time online and older respondents would put down their beers and wine to stay connected, with a resounding 30 percent leaving alcohol behind for the Internet.

"For us, connectivity is front and center in today's world where the next generation of devices and technologies with an abundance of applications for personal and professional purposes are being brought to market at record speed to meet the demands of this 'ever-connected' generation," Woods-Moss said. "This leads us to some interesting new questions—questions that shift our attention from supporting the network for the network’s sake to supporting the network for humans’ sake. How do you balance the evolution of the Internet with the evolution of how people use technology? That’s one area that we’re focused on today."