Digitally Dependent

Aug 20 2012

It’s rare to find a teen today, or even a tween, who doesn’t have a cellphone. These digital natives are dependent on their mobile devices and use them constantly to communicate, search the web, play games, and more. In a recent Pulse Survey among nearly 400 Millennials, we asked what they couldn’t live without and cellphones, unprompted, were by the far the most common response. This comes as no surprise since Millennials have grown up with tech and have come to rely on it for everything. Half of teens say they couldn’t go a week without their phone and nearly 4 in 10 (36%) say they couldn’t go 10 minutes without checking their mobile devices. Cellphones are a lifeline for them, as well as a security blanket. In fact, three-quarters of 25-29-year-olds even sleep with their phones!

Connectivity is crucial to Millennials, which explains why the Internet was also a popular answer. As a 17-year-old female put it, “Many kids today wouldn’t know what to do with their lives if the Internet was taken away. We use it for everything now. Kids can’t even do their homework without help from the Internet. They can’t go on vacation without telling everyone on Facebook and of course they can’t eat without Instagraming it first.” Her comment reflects this deep digital dependence that Millennials have on technology, but also the love/hate relationship that comes with it.

We often hear how Millennials value tech since it makes life easier — one can learn anything in just a click of a button — yet they’re always plugged in, which can be a burden. Many believe that technology changes the way their generation interacts with each other since young people are always on their phones, even when hanging out in-person with their peers. Others feel anxious in the workplace since work always follows them home thanks to smartphones. And as the Millennial above pointed out, there’s a culture today to do certain things solely so you can share it on social media. Yet despite these drawbacks, tech is an important part of Millennials lives, and they can’t, and don’t want to imagine a world without it.

Music was another common answer since it’s something people can connect with; it can reflect a time, experience, or emotion. As an 18-year-old male explains, “I think my generation values music over everything. This is because it’s the one thing that can provide truth.” Music can create instant gratification, so it’s no wonder why Millennials, and people of all ages, feel so strongly about it, and would have a tough time without it.

Others mentioned specific gadgets such as computers or iPods, but besides tech related items and necessary sustenance to live, Millennials feel that family and the relationships they have with friends or significant others are important. It’s these connections that provide value. In fact, money and cars were only mentioned by a small handful, reaffirming that Millennials seek happiness over wealth and that they want to feel fulfilled. This attitude of personal satisfaction over materialism is reflected in their desire to have a job they love over one with a big paycheck, their entrepreneurial spirit with the goal of making a positive difference, and most of all, their desire to be constantly connected with those who matter to them most.

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