We may be able to survive three days without water, but a new report has found that 44% of Australians can’t go more than four hours offline before becoming ‘uncomfortable’. Millennials are the most internet-obsessed, with over a quarter saying they suffer after more than an hour without internet access.
WP Engine surveyed 1,000 Australians on the impact digital has had on their careers, perception of the internet, and how they connect with others for the Generation Resilience Report.
The results carry implications for physical and mental health, with COVID-related life changes also playing a role.
Fears for the future
The report found that 67% of Gen Z respondents fear their online actions (such as social media posts and past purchases) will affect future job offers.
Over half of young Australians think their online reputation will determine their dating options (Gen Z 53%; Millennials 52%), and whether they’ll be eligible for a loan to buy a car or a house in the next five years (Gen Z 60%; Millennials 51%).
In terms of work, and the shift to increasing remote work during COVID, younger generations are the most likely to think working from home has stunted their careers (Gen Z 50%; Millennials 39%).
However many people are taking steps to regain control of the situation, with 51% of Gen Z and 41% of Millennials intending to start their own businesses.
Over half of the survey respndents intend to launch their business online (Gen Z 55%; Millennials 62%). Gen Z focus industries are retail (25%), entertainment (22%), beauty and wellness (21%) and technology (12%).
20% of millennials are planning technology-related businesses.
Many Australians reported making new friends online during COVID-19, with 73% of respondents feeling that the internet has made people more connected during the pandemic. This increases to 4-in-5 of Gen Z (83%).
63% of Gen Z believe their relationships (romantic, work and school) have suffered due to COVID-19, while 74% of Baby Boomers said their relationships haven’t suffered at all.
Over half of Gen Z (54%) made a new friend online during COVID-19.
Despite having some of the slowest internet speeds in the developed world, Australia is more dependent on the net for every aspect of life than ever before.
The combination of COVID and tech improvements over the last couple of years have driven massive growth in streaming, video chat, online shopping, social media, gaming, online banking and gig economy services, and this shows no sign of slowing down.
While older Australians remain frustrated with not being able to touch, see and try on purchases, younger shoppers are intending to remain being digital consumers whatever happens with COVID, but are demanding more 3D displays online.
In terms of learning, a growing number of people prefer online to in-person educational experiences. Older people who have been forced to use online tools for connecting with others during COVID are likely to continue doing so.
Dark side of the boom
While digital technology of all kinds has become more ubiquitous recently, the Generation Resilience Report shows that the associated health and burnout risks are also becoming clearer.
The survey reports a majority of users, including Gen Z (62%) and Millennials (59%), saying that in the future, they would like to reduce the amount of time they spend online.