New research from Cambridge University indicates that a third of people have felt overwhelmed by technology – but children still prefer face-to-face communication
New communications technology makes one in three people feel ‘overwhelmed’, according to a new study from Cambridge University.
The eight-month research project, which also examined other countries, found that while Britons overwhelmingly viewed new technology such as mobile phones and social networks as a positive thing, 38 per cent of 10-14 year olds felt that too much of it could be upsetting; 34 per cent of 25-34 reported feeling similarly.
Young people, however, did not say that they favoured digital communication over face-to-face. While 65 per cent of adults said they preferred communicating in person, the same was also true for 64 per cent of children.
Those people who felt overwhelmed by new technology were also more likely to feel unsatisfied in other areas of their lives. Individuals who retained control over new technology generally felt happier.
Professor John Clarkson, director of the Engineering Design Centre at the University of Cambridge and Principal Investigator of the study, said families who had a better understanding of their use of communications technology appeared to have a more balanced and positive relationship with it. “There is much discussion about whether communications technology is affecting us for the better or worse. The research has shown that communications technology is seen by most as a positive tool but there are examples where people are not managing usage as well as they could be.” He added, “it is not necessarily the amount but the way in which it is used.”
Almost half of all young people surveyed said that they were already consciously trying to cut down on their use of technology, and 42 per cent of both adults and children said they had tried to cut back on the amount of time they spent on social networks.
As part of the research, 63 families around the world kept a weekly diary of their hour-by-hour use of communications technology. Many subsequently decided to make changes to their behaviour. More than a third of parents said that technology had ‘at least sometimes’ disrupted family life and 58 per cent said their family would benefit from technology-free time.
BT, which sponsored the study, warned users that families should set rules and make sure that parents knew what their children were doing online.