Three quarters of Britons say they couldn’t live without the internet

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
October 26, 2018, 9:39 AM GMT+0

YouGov and the V&A examine to what extent technology has become fundamental to our humanity

In 2016, the United Nations declared the internet to be a human right. Some countries, including Estonia, Finland and France, have already made internet access a legal requirement.

One of the questions posed by the V&A Museum as part of their “The Future Starts Here” exhibition (of which YouGov is a partner organisation) asks: what makes us human? With the nations now declaring the internet to be a human right, it is now arguable that technology has become a fundamental and inextricable part of our humanity.

With that in mind, YouGov put a list of eight technologies to the British public and asked which they felt they couldn’t live without. Topping the list, and somewhat affirming the wisdom of the UN’s declaration, is the internet, which 73% of Britons say they can’t live without.

Coming in second place are glasses/contact lenses, which 66% of people say they can’t live without (the reported proportion of Britons who wear glasses is 68%).

A majority of people also say they couldn’t live without a computer (58%) or a car (51%), while 50% say they couldn’t live without a smartphone and 49% a television.

Less necessary to living are watches, which 31% of Brits say they couldn’t live without, and headphones (21%).

Different generations are reliant on different technologies

There is a significant relationship between a person’s age and their attachment to technology. It is not, however, simply that young people are more attached to technology than their elders. While younger people are more reliant on the internet, smartphones and headphones, older people are much more likely to say they couldn’t live without glasses, TV, cars or watches.

How reliant are Britain’s six future mindsets on technology?

As part of our work for the V&A exhibition, YouGov has conducted a segmentation analysis which reveals how the British public can be split into six different groups regarding their attitudes toward the future. You can find out more about the groups here.

Well-informed Worriers are consistently the least reliant on tech, being substantially less likely than the general population to say they couldn’t live without the internet (58%) or smartphones (37%). They are also the least likely to say they couldn’t live without TVs (41%) and computers (49%).

Insulated Stragglers are the most likely to rely on glasses (73%) – unsurprising as they have the oldest age profile of the six groups – and are similarly more likely than the average Brit to say they couldn’t live without TV (55%) or a watch (39%).

Unsurprisingly, the pro-technology Tech Disciples are the most noticeably reliant on the digital technologies from the list: 80% say they couldn’t live without the internet, 70% computers, and 61% smartphones.

Photo: Getty

See the full results here