Things Saffers can’t live without: water, oxygen and phones

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Things Saffers can’t live without: water, oxygen and phones

Most South Africans say owning a cellphone represents freedom, and it turns out we're not alone in our obsession

Journalist


More than half of the SA population cannot live without their cellphones.
“Have you ever gone one day without a phone? You feel like you’re not in this world,” one man told Pew Research Centre researchers. Surveys conducted in 11 emerging and developing countries (SA, Kenya, Jordan, Tunisia, Lebanon, India, Venezuela, Vietnam, the Philippines, Colombia and Mexico) have found that close to 60% of the local population cannot do without their devices.
“Across the 11 countries surveyed, mobile phone users fall into two camps about whether their phone is something they don’t always need or something they couldn’t live without,” the centre said in its findings.
“Kenyans, South Africans, Jordanians, Tunisians and Lebanese who use a mobile phone are more likely to say their phone is something they couldn’t live without. But in the six other countries, larger shares say they don’t always need their phone.”
More than 28,000 people surveyed told researchers that having a cellphone represented freedom and that the device saved them time.
“Overall, mobile phone users tend to associate their mobile phones with feelings of freedom. In every country surveyed a larger share of mobile phone users describe their phone as something that frees them as opposed to something that ties them down,” the researchers said.
Close to 70% of South Africans said having a cellphone did not tie them down, and that it saved them time.
Most of those surveyed said their devices helped them stay in touch with those who lived far away.
“In every country surveyed, about nine in 10 or more say their phones have helped them in this regard. At the same time, a median of 53% of adults across the 11 countries surveyed say the increasing use of mobile phones has had a good influence on family cohesion, compared with a median of 20% who say it has had a bad influence.”
Across countries, the majority believed cellphones had a good influence on education, the economy, local culture, politics and family cohesion.
However, most agreed that cellphones had a bad influence on physical health.

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