A new consumer behaviour survey backs other research that there is a growth of "digital dependency" in New Zealand, according to a leading academic.
Online interaction is overtaking real-life socialisation and lack of access to the internet is causing anxiety for some Kiwis, according to the results of a Canstar Blue consumer satisfaction survey released this week.
Of the 1127 people who participated in Canstar Blue's survey, 41 per cent said they felt stressed without internet access and 26 per cent said they socialised more online than in person.
Thirty-six per cent also admitted to checking or updating their social accounts multiple times each day, 40 per cent said they "wasted a lot of time" surfing the internet out of boredom and 18 per cent said they downloaded music and videos they did not pay for.
When results were broken down further, Generation Y respondents - those born between about 1980 and 2004 - were more adversely affected by the internet trends.
University of Auckland senior marketing lecturer Bodo Lang said the results supported other trends in New Zealand and worldwide.
"I think addiction is not too strong of a word because what really strikes me - when you have people engaging in an activity and feeling guilty while doing that activity and know that that activity negatively impacts on their life - it's exactly like a drug," he said.
"There is a real digital dependency showing for some groups of society in New Zealand."
Canstar New Zealand general manager Derek Bonnar said the demographic scored much higher in all categories - with 72 per cent admitting they wasted time surfing the web, 62 per cent regularly updating their social media, 55 per cent feeling stressed when disconnected and 41 per cent engaging with others more online than in person.
"The internet is definitely becoming ubiquitous, and not always with positive effects," he said.
When respondents were separated by gender, Mr Bonnar said 14 per cent of men were noticing harmful effects on their real-life relationships compared to 9 per cent of women.
Geographically, Aucklanders spent more time than others checking and updating their social media profiles, and those in the Bay of Plenty were the least interested in their online worlds.
Mr Lang said technology was addictive because smartphone and tablet devices were becoming more affordable, and New Zealand was becoming more connected.
People were also drawn to the services to keep up with their friends and because there was a plethora of enticing content online.
Survey respondents were also asked which internet service provider they rated the highest on the basis of several criteria - Slingshot took out the top spot, followed by Orcon, Vodafone and Spark.