New Delhi/Chennai: Internet access seems to have become a basic need, ranking behind air, water, food and shelter for at least for 33 percent of the respondents to a global survey by networking giant Cisco.
The study also pointed out that four out of five college students and young employees surveyed believed that the internet is important and an essential part of their lives.
The 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report conducted by third-party market research firm InsightExpress surveyed 1,441 college students (aged 18-24) and 1,412 employees (aged 21-29) from 14 countries, including the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, UK, France, Russia, India and China.
In India, 95 percent of the college students and young employees surveyed said the internet is as important in their lives as water, food, air and shelter.
"Internet is no longer a 'good to have', it is now a 'must have'. There is a conscious need to be connected at all times from all locations, accelerated by the growth of social media and smart mobile devices which provide easy access to the Internet," Cisco India and SAARC Vice-President (Borderless Networks) Mahesh Gupta told reporters in a teleconference.
The report provides an insight into this phenomenon by focusing on current and future employees and provides a barometer on how companies can best address their needs, expectations and issues, he added.
About 64 percent of the respondents (two out of three) said they would prefer an internet connection over a car.
In addition, about 40 percent of respondents globally (two out of five) said the worldwide web is more important than dating or going out with friends or even listening to music.
On the importance of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to the younger generation, the report said 27 percent (one in four) said they would rather update their status messages on Facebook than party, date or hang out with friends, if there had to be a choice between them.
On the importance of mobile devices in their day-to-day lives, the study said 71 percent of respondents in India answered in the affirmative, the second-highest number after the UK (74 percent) and ahead of countries like Australia (66 percent), China (62 percent) and the US (62 percent).
The survey also revealed that smartphones and laptops trumped televisions in the survey respondents' preference, with only one out of 10 college students opting for TV as the most important device in their lives.
The report also strongly indicated that the use of paper has gone down significantly among the youth, as two out of five students have not bought a book from a bookstore in the last two years.
In terms of usage of social networking site Facebook, Indian respondents were ranked highest in the survey, with 92 percent of students checking their accounts daily, while one-third (33 percent) check their virtual walls at least five times a day.
The survey also said 85 percent of employees in India confirmed adding their colleagues and managers as friends on Facebook.