4 out of 5 Americans want power to control another person's computer (but it's not what you think!)

Survey highlights importance of remote computer access in multi-device age

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Nearly two-thirds of Americans use more than one computing device in a week, whether it's desktops, laptops, netbooks, tablets, smartphones, portable gaming devices or that old standby, the abacus.

And, according to an online survey, nearly nine in 10 of those multiple-device owners believe it's important (to one degree or another) for them to be able to remotely access their computers from any other mobile device or handheld computer.

No surprise there, but get this: 79% of Americans believe people want the freedom to control another person's computer.

There are numerous reasons for this, none of which are "feeling of omnipotence," which was my first choice.

Instead, according to the survey by TeamViewer, a vendor of remote control and online presentation software, people just want to help! Specifically:

* To help someone learn how to fix a problem with their computer – 66%
* To show a relative how to use a complicated program – 58%
* To help someone check their email – 56%
* To help someone surf the Internet – 51%
* To play a game with a distant friend – 41%
* To help a friend update their resume – 37%
* To assist a loved one with a highly contagious disease – 37%

That last one is, um, a bit unusual. But people with highly contagious diseases sometimes need computer help that the local geek squad may be reluctant to provide, given the situation, so it's nice to see so many Americans want them to get assistance (from a safe distance).

The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, was taken by more than 2,300 adults ages 18 and up.

Here's another reason people want to be able to access distant computers: If they're on a business trip and forgot an important document. When that happens, the survey reports, 31% worry they'll be fired. Other reactions:

* Run to the nearest phone – 30% (What? Like a phone booth?)
* Feel like they were kicked in the gut – 25%
* Shouting expletives – 22%
* Feel like vomiting – 12%

The demographic groups most likely to "shout expletives" are men ages 35 to 44 and recently ousted Yahoo CEOs, age 63. Which makes sense, when you think about it.

Yes, I know these kinds of surveys are self-serving, but I couldn't pass up reporting this because some of these responses are funny.

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