An Insight into Generation Y

Who am I?

I check my smartphone the moment I wake up in the morning.  I compulsively check it for updates every few minutes.  I connect with friends online more than I do in person.  I take my smartphone to the toilet, and use it while driving.  I shop, socialise, and share photos and videos via my smartphone.  And I tailor my identity online to present myself very differently to who I am in the real world.

If you guessed that I was an average citizen of Planet Generation Y, you would have been absolutely correct.

A report from Cisco has delved into the nature of Gen Y globally and their relationship with technology.  The 2012 Cisco Connected World Technology Report deals with Gen Y and technology, with a particular focus on smartphones.   The report was based on a study commissioned by Cisco and conducted by InsightExpress (a market research firm in the US).

The global study consisted of two surveys

  • Gen Y college students between the ages of 18 and 30
  • IT professionals across a variety of industries

Each survey included 100 respondents from each of the 18 countries for a total pool of 3,600 respondents. The 18 countries are: The United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, Poland, Turkey, South Africa, India, China, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.

The first survey looked at Gen Y smartphone and internet habits. Below is a snapshot of some of the more interesting findings globally.

  • 29% Gen Y respondents check their smartphones so constantly they lose count.
  • 1/5 checks at least every 10 minutes.
  • 1/3 of respondents check at least once every 30 minutes
  • 60% of Gen Yers subconsciously or compulsively check their smartphones for emails, texts or social media updates.
  • 3 out of 4 respondents use smartphones in bed.
  • Over a third use smartphones in the bathroom.
  • 46% text, email and check social media during meals with family and friends.
  • Almost one in five admits to texting while driving.
  • Nearly 70% of the Gen Y respondents said mobile applications are important to their daily lives.
  • 70% of Gen Y respondents use fewer than 10 smartphone apps regularly.
  • 40% spend more time visiting online with friends than socializing in person.
  • 38% of men worldwide spend more time in-person with friends than online, versus 29% of women.
  • Nine out of 10 Gen Y surveyed said they engage in online shopping.
  • Nearly three out of five (58%) report they regularly rely on customer reviews when deciding on online purchases
  • Almost 90% upload photos to share or store on Internet sites.
  • 62% upload videos to share or store on Internet sites.
  • 87% have a Facebook account
  • 1 in 10 have Facebook always up.
  • 41% update Facebook at least once a day
  • 56% of respondents have a Twitter account

Importantly, unlike many ‘global’ surveys, Cisco included Australia in this research, and the interactive infographic on their website allows us to drill down on some of the Australian specific insights.

  • 31% check email, texts & social media updates as part of their daily routine to get ready for school or work.  An additional 47% will check if there’s time.
  • 30% spend more time connecting with online friends than with friends in person.    A further 26% spend about equal time connecting with friends on and offline.
  • 80% of Australian Gen Yers believe that most people’s online identities are different to their offline identities.
  • 33% say it’s ok for web sites to track and share information about their online browsing.

It’s interesting to see the comparisons between young people in different countries. For example we are often compared to the US, but there are some striking differences between the young people in both countries. While 33% of Australians are happy for websites to track & share info about their browsing, this figure is much higher at 45% in the US.  And in fact twice as many Australian Gen Yers were unaware that this tracking was even a possibility.  Australian youth spend more time with their offline friends, and their smartphone is less likely to be an essential part of their daily routine.

In China, by comparison, only 2% of Gen Y ers say their smartphone is not a part of their daily routine, and Chinese youth are more than twice as likely as Australians to spend time with their online friends over meeting up in person.

The second part of the survey, focusing on security & privacy was released a few weeks ago. It revealed the following new findings about how Gen Y feel about the privacy of their data, both personally and in the workplace:

  • Gen Y use 2 – 3 internet devices such as laptops, tablets, PCs and smartphones
  • Nearly 3 out of 5 say internet browsing should be strictly private at work and home
  • 91% feel the age of privacy is over
  • 1/3 of respondents are not worried about all the data that is stored and captured about them
  • 66% say it’s not OK for employers to track employee internet activity if they are using a company device
  • 1/3 say it’s OK if web sites track and share information about their online browsing if they give permission first
  • 40% are aware of their company’s policy forbidding company-owned devices for personal activities.
  • 71% don’t obey the policies!

For more information about this second set of findings looking at security vs convenience and the first part of the survey, you can visit the Cisco Connected World Technology Report or browse this PDF highlighting the key findings visually.


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