20 ways technology is changing our lives
From spellchecks to pains in our necks, and from squatting in coffee shops to losing our sense of direction, digital devices are having their devilish way with us, says John Costello
Coffee shop squatters are the new anti-social menace, according to the latest academic research. But the perpetrators are far from sandal-clad dreadlock-wearing Occupy Dame Street wannabes.
In fact, this new plague is being fuelled by laptop-wielding workers, lured by free wi-fi, who take over tables by nursing a single cappuccino for hours on end much to the ire of other customers.
By laying out their laptops, smartphone and iPad on the table top, they effectively set up their entire office for the whole afternoon, according to the new report Dibs! Customer Territorial Behaviours, published in the Journal of Service Research.
Their prolonged presence in cafes often leads to territorial disputes with other customers as "changing work habits have created a new class of teleworkers for whom the office is wherever they can access a wireless signal".
But it is not only our work life that is being tampered with, according to a constant stream of research that frequently highlights how the way we work, rest and play is being transformed by technology.
So, how do you rate yourself when it comes to the 20 ways technology is changing our lives?
1 The Proliferation of Porn
With one in 10 websites featuring pornographic material, the online world has had a dramatic affect on our sex lives in the off-line world. This has given rise to the new, albeit worrying, phenomenon of Sexual Attention Deficit Disorder, according to US sex therapist Ian Kerner.
Sufferers have an inability to enjoy sex with "real" women even though most people realise porn's the equivalent of professional wrestling -- phony and superficial.
2 Say What?
Studies show that hearing loss is on the rise, with about 16pc of adults having trouble hearing. But is it thanks to MP3 players?
Quite possibly as up to 25pc of us play our music far too loud, according to research undertaken at the Children's Hospital Boston.
3 Not Getting Enough Sleep?
Our dependence on televisions, mobiles and laptops is costing us heavily when it comes to sleep.
Nearly 95pc of people questioned in a National Sleep Foundation (NSF) study said they used some type of electronics in the hour before going to bed, and about two-thirds of those then admitted to not getting enough sleep during the week.
This lack of sleep is negatively impacting on our work, mood, family, driving habits, sex lives and health, according to the NSF.
4 Unleashing Our Inner Stalker
Using technology to spy on our spouses, such as tracking their movements through their mobile and sneaking a look at their emails, is turning us all into Big Brother. In fact, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, virtually all divorce cases in the US now involve electronic evidence.
5 The Google Effect
The world's favourite search engine is changing the way our brains work by making us far better at remembering where to look for information on the internet than at remembering the information itself. Indeed, it is of little surprise psychologists say the internet is being used by a growing number of us as a personal memory bank for information.
6 That's Entertainment?
Before electronic gadgets people found simple ways to entertain themselves. They played board games together or sat in front of the telly as a family.
But with homes flooded with computers, game consoles and gadgets galore, home entertainment has changed from being a team sport to more of an individual pursuit, with research showing only one in 10 families watch TV together.
7 Not Such a Sight for Sore Eyes
About 70pc of us who work on computers have some degree of eye problems, such as redness, irritation, blurry vision, difficulty focusing and mild headaches, according to the American Optometric Association.
It is also affecting our blink rate, normally 12 times per minute but decreasing to about five times per minute for people using a computer. This causes the cornea to dehydrate, forcing the body to make more tears to rehydrate the eyes, causing watering and redness.
8 Digital Disorders
Technology is causing some people to exhibit symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction and depression, according to a study undertaken by psychologist Dr Larry Rosen of California State University.
He believes that while technology doesn't make us mad, it certainly can add fuel to the fire.
9 A pain in the Neck
While the 'text thumb injury' has plagued teenagers for many years, 'text neck' and 'Twitter tendonitis' is tormenting those of more mature years how have recently become suckers for smartphones.
Indeed, spending too much time craning our necs over small screens is giving many of us a real pain in the neck, according to Tim Hutchful from the British Chiropractic Association.
10 Facebook Infatuation
Those hooked on social media can display symptoms similar to sufferers of alcohol and substance addiction, according to the University of Bergen's Facebook Addiction research project.
Studies show that while women are more susceptible to Facebook addiction, dependency also occurs more frequently among younger than older users.
11 Welcome to the Pleasure Dome
Teenage kicks used to be about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, but for millions of adolescents today pleasure centres around endless hours in front of a computer screen, according to neurologist Susan Greenfield's book The Quest For Identity in the 21st Century.
She fears we could be "raising a hedonistic generation who live only in the thrill of the computer-generated moment, and are in distinct danger of detaching themselves from what the rest of us would consider the real world."
12 Scrapping Our Sense of Direction
The days of family arguments on the side of the road while Dad spread out the map on the car hood are long gone thanks to GPS.
Yup, the map has become redundant thanks to the smartphone, meaning that we no longer have to rely on our sense of direction even when navigating through city streets.
13 Killing the Art of Conversation
Our apparent addiction to smartphones is killing the art of conversation, according to the boffins.
A recent study in Brisbane, Australia revealed more than three-quarters of people appeared blind to those around them, as they seemed mesmerised by their phones.
14 Cash Is No Longer King
Hard currency has been in decline ever since we began to take paying with plastic for granted.
But we will soon be swiping our mobiles at the checkout as research shows more than half of consumers are interested in paying for goods with their phone, according to Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group.
15 Mobile Shopaholics
Last Christmas one in three used their phones to check competitor prices, look for reviews of products, search ratings and check specifications, according to UK-based research group, Intersperience.
And with the rate of smartphone ownership rapidly on the rise, when it comes to shopping few of us will be leaving home without their mobile.
16 Hi-tech Telly
Thanks to technology we are no longer slaves to the television schedule, with many of our favourite shows and movies available online. And now that Apple is widely rumoured to be releasing a new TV next year, expect the hi-tech giant to do to television what its iPod did to music.
17 Pictures that paint a thousand pixels
Remember the bad old days when you sent off your camera roll to be processed and received back a couple of good snaps among a pile of out-of-focus and red-eyed photo fiascos?
Thankfully now you can not take countless pictures, view them instantly and edit them, up load them and print them when and where you want.
18 Digital Dating
Compared with the UK, the US and some European countries, many of those looking for love in Ireland still find online dating a relatively new concept.
However, it is still estimated that more than 500,000 singles visit sites here every month hoping that their keyboard can help play Cupid.
19 We Are All Travel Agents
It wasn't so long ago that booking a vacation meant a visit to the travel agent. Now we not only book our flights and hotels online, but we research our destination, the sights to see and the nightspots to party in.
All this is leaving travel agents increasingly redundant -- literally.
20 Spell check!
Younger generations are forgetting how to spell and even write complete sentences due to the increased use of text messaging on mobile phones, according to the State Examination Commission. It found that teenagers seemed "unduly reliant on short sentences, simple tenses and a limited vocabulary".