Study: One in five Brits can’t live low-tech

One in five Brits claim not to be able to survive without digital technology, according to a new survey by Intel. Perhaps the chip giant has spent too long hanging around hospital intensive care units.

One thousand Brits and many more across six other European countries answered questions posed by Intel on how technology impacts our lives. The U.K.’s 80 per cent survival rate makes us more dependent than the average: overall, one in eight Europeans reckoned they’d die without PCs and mobile phones.

So the next time the power fails, expect to see slaughter in the streets. Perhaps it’s not surprising that another 13 per cent of us say we’d be happier if all the digital and computer technology was taken out of our lives.

Intel’s Digital Lifestyle Report also found that Brits have in general adopted new technology faster than our continental cousins. We’re more likely than other Europeans to have digital or satellite TV, desktop computers, DVD players and digital cameras, and use Internet shopping, for example.

But we’re laggards when it comes to mobile phones — a mere 96 per cent of British respondents had one, compared to 98 per cent in Germany, Sweden and Spain. More significantly — and curiously — we’re also half as likely to try Internet dating as the Germans or Italians.

Technology take-up varies a lot across Europe, with the report highlighting Italians as the most positive about new technology, while Germans are the most likely to stick with what they know.

Conversely, only 30 per cent of Italians said their lives would change dramatically without technology, versus 54 per cent of Brits. It makes us wonder if the report’s authors have ever met any Italians, as the young at least seem permanently welded to their mobiles. Then again, maybe that’s why one in five Italians — presumably the older ones — say they’d be happier without all this new-fangled electronics.

The report’s authors made several references to how technology can help us with our busy lives, but rather fewer to the way technology has helped make our lives so busy in the first place. “Simplicity is key,” they said, optimistically, “and although technology can add great value, it is important that we do not reach the point where we wonder whether it is helping us manage our busy lives, or merely adding to its complexity.”

That some of us are way past that point already seems clear from the 20 per cent ready to commit hara-kiri if their Internet and SMS access is withdrawn. Let’s just hope they don’t decide to take the rest of us with them.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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