Most American adults find Internet access essential to daily life in today's economic climate, with some choosing it as a must-have over watching TV and having sex.
The "Internet Reliance in Today's Economy" survey, conducted by Harris Interactive and sponsored by Intel, revealed that 65 % of adults feel they cannot live without Internet access, and even more – 71% – responded that it is important or very important to have Internet-enabled devices, such as laptops, netbooks and mobile Internet devices (MIDs) that can provide them with real-time updates on important issues including the state of the economy.
Most US adults also identify the Internet as a key tool in today's economy for managing personal finances, finding discounts and the best deals while shopping online, and many rated access to the Internet as indispensable compared to other discretionary items, such as dining out, shopping for clothes and gym memberships.
According to the survey, nearly half of women (46%) and 30% of men would rather go without sex for two weeks than give up Internet access for the same amount of time. For women aged 18-34 it was 49% and for women aged 35-44 it was 52%. For men aged 18-34, it was 39%.
In addition, 95% of adults feel that it is very important, important or somewhat important for people to have devices that allow them to access the Internet. A majority (82%) agree that Internet-enabled devices help them stay up to date real-time on the state of the economy; 87% say that Internet access has helped them save money. Of these adults:
* 84% percent have saved money by comparing prices online and finding the best deals before making purchase decisions;
* 66% have saved money simply by shopping online; and
* 65% say the Internet has helped them save money by allowing them to search for coupons, discounts or special Internet promotions.
When asked to rate certain discretionary items on a scale of 1 (completely expendable) to 5 (cannot live without it), having Internet access ranks highest among the items listed, with 65% of US adults reporting they cannot live without it.
The following items and activities were ranked below Internet access in importance:
* Cable television subscriptions (39%);
* Dining out (20%);
* Shopping for clothes (18%); and
* Gym membership (10%).
The majority (61%) of adult women would choose to give up watching TV for two weeks instead of giving up access to the Internet for only one week, and more than half of all US adults (58%), both male and female, agree. Many shows and movies are available online, and laptops with powerful, energy-efficient processors make TV watching – even when on the go – possible almost anywhere.
Nine of 10 US adults (91%) report that the ability to access the Internet has improved at least one aspect of their lives. Within this group:
* 78% say their ability to stay in touch with friends and family has improved;
* 68% say they are able to shop more effectively; and
* Nearly half (47%) say they are able to manage their finances better because of the Internet through activities such as online banking and paying bills.