Singaporeans are hooked to the Net and loving it, says poll

A recent survey of more than 9,000 Internet users in six countries shows people in Singapore to be the most emotionally connected to the Web. And analysts say the city's good networks are a big help to those who need their Net fix.
A recent survey of more than 9,000 Internet users in six countries shows people in Singapore to be the most emotionally connected to the Web. And analysts say the city's good networks are a big help to those who need their Net fix.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Poll shows S'pore surfers have strong emotional attachments to the Web

The only time finance manager Allan Chee is off the Internet is when he sleeps.

So, when he has to go abroad for work or holiday, the self-professed Web addict said he would pop a sleeping pill.

"No Internet, no life for me," said the 50-year-old, adding that he could last, at most, four hours without being online. Beyond that, he feels restless.

Like Mr Chee, many people in Singapore have been bitten by the digital bug.

A recent survey of more than 9,000 Internet users in six countries shows people in Singapore to be the most emotionally connected to the Web.

About 78 per cent of 1,000 Singapore respondents said they felt angry or anxious when deprived of Internet access, compared with 64 per cent on average across the other countries.

India-based IT service provider Tata Communications conducted the survey in Britain, France, Germany, India, Singapore and the US between April and June.

Less than half of Singapore residents can last up to 12 hours without going online, compared with more than two-thirds in all the other countries except India, where respondents are just as dependent on the Internet.

Analysts said people in Singapore have the city's "good networks" to thank in part for their emotional bond with the Web.

Senior analyst Clement Teo of US-based market research firm Forrester said many people here have easy online access via mobile phones or tablets.

"And once they get on social media, they are hooked," he said.

This is partly why Mr Chee cannot live without the Internet. He goes online to stay updated on the latest gossip and fashion trends.

Another reason people are always online: social games.

Retired PR consultant Ronald Hee, 50, said the Facebook game Mafia Wars has a great influence on his daily schedule.

"I try to be online at certain times of the day for scheduled fights with other players, and jobs to earn cash or items to enhance my character in the game," he said, recalling feelings of frustration when deprived of Web access.

He also downloads e-books and films on his tablet to keep him entertained when he is on holiday.

The Tata survey, however, excluded high-connectivity societies such as South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, which analysts said would affect the results.

After all, news stories about Internet addiction seem more prevalent in Hong Kong than in Singapore, said analyst Ryan Huang from British-based brokerage IG.

The problem also looks to be deadlier elsewhere. "There are Internet fasting camps and deaths linked to Internet addiction in other countries such as South Korea and Japan," Mr Huang added.

itham@sph.com.sg