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Back-to-School Technology: 1999 vs 2014

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Over the years, technology has evolved and changed the way college students work, play and live. Take a look back to see how students’ priorities have shifted, how technology has evolved and how AMD is leading the next generation.

The year is 1999. I've just graduated from high school and am preparing to leave home for the first time to head to college. In this process, I vividly remember several key moments including buying my very first laptop. However, even though I was excited about it and knew it would be helpful for getting my school work done, I didn't then realize what an instrumental part of life computers would become. I was more focused on what really mattered, my most cherished possession and my ultimate ticket to freedom – my car.

So imagine my surprise when I saw the results of our recent back-to-school survey, in which college-bound students say their laptop is their most prized possession, beating out their car, as well as their tablet, bicycleBTS_Datagraphic1_Final.jpg and television!

Add to that the fact that a majority say one of their biggest fears is that their technology will stop working, and 70 percent say they can’t imagine a life without technology and it becomes clear that students’ priorities today have shifted – technology is at the head of the class.

This left me to ponder what has changed so much in these 15 years? Two thoughts came to mind:

  1. A world enabled by technology is all they know. The majority of today’s college students were born between 1992 and 1995 and likely don’t remember a world without a personal computer or Internet connectivity in their home.
  2. Technology, technology everywhere. The incredible advances in technology over the last 15 years have made it a part of nearly every aspect of life today, whether you’re a college student or not.

In contrast, I grew up with minimal exposure to technology, playing “Oregon Trail” in the computer lab in elementary school, taking typing classes in middle school and a few computer classes in high school. We had a computer at home, which I used for typing school papers which were researched in the library using the Dewey Decimal System and digging through the stacks for actual printed books. The first time I went online I used a dial-up modem. The year I arrived at college was marked by several technological firsts including the introduction of social networking (in the form of MySpace), Bluetooth technology, Blackberry, TiVo, and the wonder of webcasts (remember the 1999 Victoria’s Secret fashion show?)

Today all of these technologies – and many more – are ubiquitous, some are even obsolete. From the way I wake up in the morning, to how I work, to relaxing after a long day and everything in between -- I constantly interact with technology. And I was surprised to see that my technology use and purchase habits align closely with those of the 2014 college students:

  • I also consider my laptop is one of my most prized possessions today and have suffered the horror of a computer crash, so know it is truly something to be feared.

  • I use my laptop nearly as much for streaming videos and other entertainment-related activities as I do for work and our research uncovered that I’m not alone. Seventy-three percent of students surveyed use other devices more than a TV to watch television shows and videos. However, I do still make use of my TV by wirelessly connecting it to my laptop for a larger screen experience.

  • I look for similar characteristics in my laptop as they report will be important to them when shopping for a new one for the upcoming school year, including price, performance, battery life, security, and entertainment features. And, because I work at a chip company, I know that the processor is a key factor in all of these. Even better, I can proudly say that AMD processors uniquely address this array of experiences.

It’s amazing to think this evolution from cars to computing devices as campus must-haves has only taken 15 years. I can only imagine what the students heading to college in 2029 will demand from their devices and can’t help but wonder, will I be able to keep up?  

Sarah Youngbauer is a PR Manager at AMD. Her postings are her own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.

Survey Methodology: This survey was conducted online within the United States between May 20 and 28, 2014 among 511 adults aged 18-26 who will be attending a 2 or a 4 year college, not necessarily in the United States, in the fall by Harris Poll on behalf of Edelman for AMD. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

*Originally Posted by Sarah Youngbauer in AMD on Jul 25, 2014 3:16:28 PM