by Ric Epley
Technology has greatly improved over the years thus has led to a change in the lifestyle of individuals and it can be said to have made life easier for many of its users. One such facility that has been developed through technology is the Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is generally defined as a facility that allows computers or other devices like smart phones to wirelessly connect to the internet and communicate with one another in an area referred to as Wi-Fi zone or hotspot. There are many effects that the emergence of Wi-Fi can be credited to both positive and negative. Most people expect to access Wi-Fi everywhere they go due to the fact that they use the internet in almost everything they do. The internet is used by people and organizations to conduct business and communicate, thus the need to maintain the Wi-Fi Zones and to stay connected is one of the most important factors of one’s daily needs.
The use of computers and other portable technological devices has allowed the communication through the internet a common activity. New media technology plays a much bigger role in how people interact with their society and individuals. Through this technology and the Wi-Fi, we are able to connect to the internet which has become such a vital factor in our day to day activities. Corporates and the community have come together to create Wi-Fi zones which through our devices they are able to provide the internet to users. The internet is credited for enabling people to maintain social ties. According to Lee who studies online communication and Adolescent social ties in an attempt to find out who benefits from the use of the internet explains the effects of online communication to social ties through the displacement, increase, rich-get-richer and the social compensation hypothesis (Lee, 2009). Displacement hypothesis sees that being connected to the internet will be harmful to adolescents since it displaces the time that they should be using with their families, Increase hypothesis suggests that being connected to the internet increases social interactions, networks and the closeness with other users thus they are able to maintain and create new ties in their environment, the rich-get-richer which Lee says was suggested by Kraut that those who have very strong social networks and social skills are the ones that benefit from the internet the most and the Social Compensation hypothesis states that those who benefit from being connected are those who are mostly socially anxious and people who are isolated (Lee, 2009). These theories explain the effects and influence the internet has on adolescents and their relationship with their surrounding or environment.
This dependency on the internet for most of our day to day activities has led to the diffusion of the wireless network into our everyday lives. In his work Park attributes the growth and availability of the wireless network to the corporate and community efforts (Park, 2010). People are now able to access the internet through the Wi-Fi from the comfort of their homes or when they are in public. This penetration of the wireless network was facilitated by the availability of the wireless Local Area Networks (LAN) and the emergence of mobile phone devices that were web connected, laptops and other personal digital devices (Park, 2010).The emergence and use of Wi-Fi means that the one’s devices either at home or in public can be connected to the internet without LAN network cables. In this day and age, it becomes hard for one to focus or do anything when the Wi-Fi goes off or is not accessible. The majority of people now expect free Wi-Fi once they visit public or private places due to the technology. Jolyon Attwooll mentions that the first thing that travelers do when they check in to their hotels is to check if their devices can be connected to the internet through the Wi-Fi (Attwooll, 2013). Today’s generation will do anything to have a Wi-Fi connection. As Best puts it, “today’s generation would rather have Wi-Fi than chocolate, alcohol and even sex.” A study done by ipass saw 40% of the people involved say that they would rather choose Wi-Fi as their number one daily essential while 31% opted for sex, 14% chocolate and 9% choose alcohol (Best, 2016).
Not being connected to the Wi-Fi zone has major impacts on the individuals who are already accustomed to being connected. Not being connected means that they are not able to access their technological devices or the internet in any way. This is a factor that might lead to depression. Studies indicate that some people are good at making friends on social media but in real life they are shy and struggle to hold keep conversations (Jenny, 2015). According to Jenny, the lack of Wi-Fi causes anxiety, restlessness, loneliness and depression. This may be because people feel left out when they are not able to communicate to one another, thus they become sad as they miss out on the simple elements of pleasure which might cause insomnia (Jenny, 2015). Insomnia in itself may lead to a reduction in the activity of one’s brain which is one of the conditions that cause stress in the heart. Most college students and youngsters, according to a study by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda, shows that the students themselves were not able to stay away or from their social media links.
There is one thing that is certain. There is a substantial generational dichotomy in uses for the Wi-Fi and the reasons each stay connected. According to Marketing Charts research by the Pew Research Centre shows that young users between the ages of 12-28 use and have embraced the use of online applications which they are used for communicating, enhance creativity and social purposes. Older generations (Boomers) stay connected to participate in activities that are capital related, such as online banking, shopping and booking travel reservations (MarketingCharts, 2009). It also shows that many young people are going to do more things than they have been doing in the past. A higher percentage of the older generation use is staying connected to email while the younger generation’s use of email use has reduced. Most young people stay connected to the internet because of the entertainment and to communicate with their friends and families through texting and social media. The research by Pew shows that most teens use the internet to seek entertainment through watching online videos, play online games and downloading music (MarketingCharts, 2009).
Via Fluent’s annual survey, the top five categories of app usage in the Gen Z demo are:
- Social media
By contrast, the five least-used are:
The above makes sense if you think about the fact that most Gen Z’ers haven’t grown into their real spending power. But the fact that mobile is their go-to for key areas of their life, from friends to music, tells us that as they become more financially independent, they will undoubtedly turn to mobile to spend.
The older generation is however known to use the internet to socialize less. They use the internet to research products and information, send and receive emails and buy goods and services. The research states that the old generation also researches health issues, with the third most popular online activity by the old generation being on health issues after the emails and online search (MarketingCharts, 2009). Baby Boomers are still (overall) the most powerful generation in terms of earning, so understanding their relationship with technology and mobile is crucial as a marketer. There’s an interesting psychological context here. Despite a generalization about Boomers often saying Millennials (and other younger people) are “always on their phones,” Boomers view technology a little bit differently. 82% of Boomers and above equate their mobile device with “freedom.” According to Professor Christine Milligan and Dr. Don Passey, the older generations using the internet can have numerous advantages. They suggest that the levels of which the older generation are involved in this social interactions through the internet will enable future possibilities to develop the usage and cater for potential support needs (Passey, 2011, p. 39). Though staying connected may have a number of advantages to both the young and old the obsession and desire to be constantly connected is dangerous to one’s lifestyle and personal health.
Wi-Fi is an important part of our lives in this modern day era and internet users EXPECT it to be available where ever they are. Wi-Fi has made connection easier and more widespread. The growth of this technology has also seen different behaviors between the old generation and the new generation that. These two groups value the lengths technology has gone through to be able to make works easier and are able to use them according to their need and specification.
Attwooll, J. (2013, July 13). Lack of Internet is ‘travellers’ biggest stress. Retrieved from Thee Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/Lack-of-internet-is-travellers-biggest-stress/
Baby Boomers Gain Freedom Through Technology. (2015, July 14). Retrieved April 30, 2017, from http://tech.co/baby-boomers-gain-freedom-technology-2015-07
Best, S. (2016, November 17). Are YOU addicted to Wi-Fi? Almost half of us crave internet access more than chocolate, alcohol and sex. Retrieved from Mail Online: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3944782/Are-addicted-Wi-Fi-half-crave-internet-access-chocolate-alcohol-sex.html
How Our Generation Impacts Our Mobile Use. (n.d.). Retrieved April 30, 2017, from http://info.localytics.com/blog/how-our-generation-impacts-our-mobile-use
Jenny. (2015, April 9). There is a Scientific Reason You Feel Anxious When There is No WiFi. Retrieved from CBS: http://kluv.cbslocal.com/2015/04/09/theres-a-scientific-reason-you-feel-anxious-when-theres-no-wifi/
Lee, S. J. (2009). Online Communication and Adolescent Social Ties: Who benefits mor from internet use? Journal of Computer-Meditated Communication. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2009.01451.x/full
MarketingCharts. (2009, March 2). Old and Young use Internet Differently. Retrieved from MarketingCharts: http://www.marketingcharts.com/online/generations-online-use-internet-differently-8145/
Park, N. (2010). Integration of Internet Use with Public Spaces: College Students’ Use of the Wireless Internet and Off
Passey, P. C. (2011). Ageing and The use of the Internet. Retrieved from nomminetrust: file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/NT%20SoA%20-%20Ageing%20and%20the%20use%20of%20the%20internet_0.pdf
Rainie, L., & Perrin, A. (2016, March 22). Technology Adoption by Baby Boomers (and everybody else). Retrieved April 30, 2017, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/03/22/technology-adoption-by-baby-boomers-and-everybody-else/