Roughly another half say they don't consider it that important, but it's close, according to the Cisco Connected World Technology Report.
Cisco surveyed 2,853 people split roughly equally between college students and recently employed college graduates ages 21 to 29 in 14 countries. The groups were also evenly split between men and women.
The survey put a slightly different spin on the question, offering three choices and told to choose the one that describes their attitude the best: I could live without the Internet; I could live without the Internet but it would be a struggle; I could not live without the Internet.
Among college students, 55 percent say they could not live without the Internet compared to 62 percent of those recent graduates with jobs. Another 30 percent-plus in both categories say they could survive, but it would be a struggle.
More students (40 percent) rank the Internet as most important when stacked against partying (25 percent), dating (13 percent) and music (10 percent). They'd rather have Internet access than a car, 64 percent to 36 percent.
One thing they rely on the Internet for is news, with 77 percent of students saying they get their news and other information via the Internet or other communications supported by laptops, desktop computers and smartphones. TV comes in a distant fourth at 7 percent and newspapers, magazines and books behind that at 7 percent. The results are similar for the working group.
The survey also asked the college graduates with jobs about how they regard social media sites Facebook and Twitter. The results: 81 percent of employees who have it check in with Facebook at least once every day. Twitter is less popular, with 42 percent of its members checking it at least once a day. Facebook also claims a higher percentage of members -- 88 percent -- vs. Twitter -- 42 percent.
Most employees also seem willing to include people from work in their social networks. Among Twitter users 68 percent follow co-workers, bosses or both. The rest say they keep their personal and work lives separate. With Facebook, 70 percent of users friend co-workers, bosses or both.
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This story, "Cisco: Is the Internet as important as food, water, air, shelter? " was originally published by Network World.