Computers, sex trump mobile phones in global poll

By Chris Michaud, Reuters

Posted at Jun 07 2012 04:19 PM | Updated as of Jun 08 2012 12:21 AM

NEW YORK - When given the choice, most people around the world would give up their cellphone rather than their computer and would prefer to live without social networking rather than television, according to a new global survey.

In an Ipsos poll for Reuters of 19,271 adults from 25 countries, the older, more traditional technologies and pastimes come out on top.

Two-thirds of those surveyed said they would hold on to the computer and forfeit their cellphone if forced to choose between the two, and 58% opted to give up social networking rather than television.

Sex fared even better in the matchup. Nearly 80% of people said they would rather live without their phone, than give up sex.

"When people are forced to choose between two important things, a picture is drawn about values and priorities," said Keren Gottfried, research manager of independent market researcher Ipsos.

The poll revealed striking differences by both sex and age, with women, and people younger than 35 much less willing than men, or those over 35, to give up their cellphones.

Nearly 40% of women said they would give up their computers, while just over 31% of men did. Just over 40% of younger people were ready to ditch their computer in favor of their phone.

Noting that research has shown that younger people are more likely to have advanced-capability smartphones, Gottfried said it could be expected that young people prioritize the newer technologies in the survey.

"Frequency of use of social networking is considerably higher among the young demographic," Gottfried said.

The poll found similar variations in country-by-country results. Canadians chose computers over phones by 80% to 20%, but only 49% of Saudi Arabians did. South Africans were also divided, with 52% picking computers over phones.

People in Great Britain and France were most likely to choose television over social networking, while those in China and Turkey were least likely to do so.

When it came to choosing between giving up sex or phones, Gottfried noted it was "interesting that the results seem to perpetuate cultural stereotypes of sexual progressiveness and conservatism, with Latin America least likely to give up sex over their phones and Asia-Pacific most likely."

The poll had a margin of error from plus or minus 3.1 to 4.5 percentage points.