Study highlights dependency on technology
A new study into the impact of digital technology on people’s lives found that more than half of those surveyed felt ‘upset’ at the prospect of being deprived of an Internet connection even for a short period of time. The study was part of a wide-ranging project entitled Digital Selves, which questioned people about their attitudes and use of the Internet, smartphones, and other connected devices.
The research, which involved 1,000 UK residents age 18 and over, also involved challenging participants to get through one full day without using technology. Giving up technology was considered by some to be as hard as quitting smoking or drinking, while one survey participant described it as “like having my hand chopped off,” with another calling it “my biggest nightmare.”
A significant number of people ‘cheated’ by switching on the television or radio, as they did not regard these older entertainment devices as ‘technology.’ Others agreed to the challenge but turned their mobile phones to silent, regarding being completely disconnected even for one day as “inconceivable.”
Many participants found it extremely hard to resist the temptation to go online, especially those for whom online communication represents a large part of their social interaction. A total of 40% of people felt ‘lonely’ when not engaging in activities such as social networking, email, texting, or watching their favorite television channels.
Younger people, who tend to be heavier users of social media and text messaging, found giving up technology the most difficult, while older people (over-40s) generally coped more easily. Only a minority of those surveyed reacted positively to the prospect of being without an Internet connection, with 23% saying they would feel “free.”
Paul Hudson, Chief Executive of consumer research firm Intersperience who conducted the study, said: “Online and digital technology is increasingly pervasive. Our research shows just how dominant a role it now assumes, influencing our friendships, the way we communicate, the fabric of our family life, our work lives, our purchasing habits, and our dealings with organizations.”
Hudson continued: “The resulting stepchange in the way we engage with technology has occurred faster than many of us had anticipated. This has profound implications for society both from a personal and commercial perspective. We are about to embark on a new study looking exclusively at digital engagement in under-18s which we expect to highlight even more radical developments in the behavior and attitudes of children and teenagers.”