With their frequent and wide-ranging use of the internet, netizens might appear to be creating an exclusive subculture. However, a new study by Ericsson ConsumerLab entitled The Networked Life shows that netizens are forerunners of a networked lifestyle that is being embraced by 82 percent of consumers.
Vishnu Singh, Director of Ericsson ConsumerLab, says the reason for people’s increasing use of the internet is that their perceived value of it is growing along with the rise in usage.
“The networked lifestyle is all-inclusive because the benefit for each individual user increases as more people participate in the internet,” Singh says.
The study examines varying perceptions of a networked lifestyle among consumers at opposite ends of the user spectrum: netizens, who own on average at least three connected devices, use the internet for at least one hour a day, and rely on around seven digital services daily; and un-networked consumers, who own on average one device and use the internet no more than once a week, if at all.
The need for mobility and the desire to perform digital activities while on the go are some of the key aspects of the networked lifestyle. For instance, 51 percent of netizens and only 3 percent of the un-networked currently use services that allow them to pause a movie or TV show on one device and resume playing it from a different device.
“We found a correlation between adopting a networked lifestyle and the belief that technology has a positive impact on society,” Singh says.
Across the spectrum, consumers recognize that social networks contribute to a wealth of collective intelligence that benefits all. Among the un-networked, 38 percent say it is easier to find products and services on the internet than through friends and family; and 35 percent say it is easier to find products through social networks.
“Even among those who rarely use the internet, we see an appreciation for its benefits,” Singh says.
While the networked lifestyle encompasses a wide range of usage levels, the clear forerunners in this way of life are netizens, who account for 17 percent of the 45,290 people who participated in the ConsumerLab survey, which was carried out in 24 countries. Another 65 percent of respondents have adopted some aspects of the networked lifestyle. The remaining 18 percent are considered un-networked because they never use the internet, or log on only infrequently.
The countries with the highest proportion of netizens are Chile (32 percent), South Korea (29 percent), and Brazil (28 percent). But Brazil and other countries with high numbers of netizens, including China and Colombia – are also home to a large proportion of un-networked consumers who use the internet less than once a week or not at all.
Lower proportions of netizens in highly industrialized countries such as Germany and the US are balanced by a larger distribution of those who use the internet with some regularity.
A high percentage of netizens believe technology has the power to bring about positive change, and that it leads to the democratization of education. Yet, 40 percent of them believe their privacy is compromised.
“They see the benefits outweighing the risks,” Singh says.
Consumer attitudes toward connectivity are evolving over time, alongside the growth of the network and the development of services.
For example, the acceptance of virtual interactions over physical ones continues to grow. Meanwhile, more people say they prefer to integrate work and personal life, rather than striking a balance between the two.
The report presents insights from data gathered during 45,290 face-to-face and online interviews with consumers aged 15-69, representing 1.2 billion people in the following 24 countries: Angola, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, the UK, and the US.