Study: 18- to 30-Year-Olds Say Internet as Important as Food, Water and Air

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Just how important is the internet in your life? If you consider it a fundamental human resource on a level with water, shelter and food, congratulations: You’re not alone. A new Cisco survey has revealed that, across the world, the importance of the internet has grown to genuinely stunning proportions.

The Second Annual Cisco Connected World Technology Report surveyed almost 3,000 18- to 30-year-olds from 14 different countries to find out just how connected the youth of today actually is, and found that more than half of them consider the internet an “integral part of their lives,”—one as important as food, water and even air—that they could not live without.

(MORE: Jaw-Dropper: 18- to 24-Year-Olds Average 110 Text Messages per Day)

Separating the test groups into Global College Students (18-23 years old) and Young Professionals (under 30 years old), the report reveals that 40% of the student test group consider the internet more important than dating, friends or music, with 27% going on to say that Facebook alone is more important than the other options—unsurprisingly, perhaps, 91% of students and 88% of professionals have Facebook accounts. One-fifth of that same group reported that they have not bought a physical book that wasn’t required for study in at least two years, if ever, and two out of three surveyed agreed that they would choose an internet connection over a car.

For those in the workforce, 70% of global respondents have friended their managers or co-workers on Facebook, although that number drops significantly in the U.S.—only 23% of American professionals friended managers and co-workers. And 32% of professionals on Twitter prefer to keep their personal lives separate from their work. Given the prevalence of the internet in general, and Facebook in particular, for students, it’ll be interesting to watch that last number shrink in the future.

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Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.