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New Zealanders Caught In The Web

New Zealanders Caught In The Web

By Renee Girven

Individuals with special needs are among New Zealanders who have been listed as the most internet-addicted people in the world.

A recent Cisco study shows New Zealand to have one of the highest internet penetrations in the world.

This does not surprise David Harvey, 29, who is an AUT University Business student and like many other kiwis is addicted to his computer.

The survey shows New Zealanders spend around 47 hours engaging in media-related activities in a typical week, with most of the time (22 hours) spent on the internet.

This is at a similar level to people in the US (47 hours) and the UK and ahead of the four continental European markets surveyed including in France (40 hours), Germany (44 hours), Italy (44 hours), and Spain (41 hours).

Les Williamson, vice president of Cisco Australia and New Zealand, says kiwis are spending considerably more time using the Internet than watching television or movies and are downloading video in significant numbers

"The simple fact is the network is rapidly becoming the platform not only for businesses that want to increase efficiency and productivity, but also for consumers who are changing the way they interact with each other and a whole range of their favourite content,” he says.

Unlike many kiwis, spending hours on the internet for Harvey is not just a hobby. Harvey has been blind since he was four years old, so he is dependent on technology in his everyday life.

He spends hours hunched over his lap-top, which talks to him, to complete assignments.

AUT University lecturer for Communication Studies, Rufus McEwan, says advances in technology means people with special needs are able to relate to their peers better.

“We’re not so much interacting with the physical person, so they may have a physical disability, but we’re not confronted by that. Instead we’re confronted by the information or the intellect of that person, because it’s transferred digitally.”

This is the case for Harvey, who like many of his peers uses social networking sites to “keep in touch with old friends and his friends in America”.

“Things have come a long way with laptop and screen reading technology,” he says. “I am able to be on an even playing field with almost everybody”.

Technology continues to evolve, but McEwan says the future of new media and how much it will be used is unknown.

“The one thing they say about new media is that whatever you predict will happen, the opposite will occur. So, I am not even going to try and imagine what could happen.”


Renee Girven is a Journalism Student at AUT

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