Overwhelming technology disrupting life and causing stress new study shows

Overwhelming technology disrupting life and causing stress new study shows

by Rebecca Coxon

A new study shows that over one third of people feel overwhelmed by technology today and are more likely to feel less satisfied with their life as a whole.

The study, conducted by the University of Cambridge and sponsored by BT, surveyed 1,269 people including in-depth interviews with families in the UK, also found that people who felt in control of their use of communications technology were more likely to be more satisfied with life.

Children and teens as overwhelmed as adults

However, while the younger generation are often accused of actively adhering to this technology based lifestyle, the study showed that 38% of 10-18 year olds claim to feel overwhelmed, an even higher percentage than the 34% of 25-34 year olds who felt the same way.

Similarly, the stereotype suggesting that children today prefer technology to real life social interaction was snubbed by the study. With 64% of children surveyed in the UK citing face-to-face conversation as their preferred method of communication, almost the same figure as for adults at 65%.

Professor John Clarkson, director of the Engineering Design Centre at the University of Cambridge and Principal Investigator of the study, said:

“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 – it is not necessarily the amount but the way in which it is used.”

Gavin Patterson, chief executive of BT Retail, added:

“…the research revealed that technology itself is not the problem. Compare it to food. To stay healthy, you need to eat a balanced diet. The same is true when it comes to using technology; you need to find a balance which works for you. To help with this, we are launching the Balanced Communications Diet, our equivalent of the five a day you need to help maintain a healthy relationship with technology.”

Other findings in the UK include:

  • 36% of parents surveyed found that technology at least sometimes disrupted family life
  • Three in five people (58%) said that they felt their family would benefit from having technology-free time when all communications technology was switched off
  • Nearly one in five people (19%) use communication technology for more than seven hours a day.

The study comes along with recent claims that Facebook, Twitter and similar social networking sites can leave some feeling depressed or addicted. Rates of cyberbullying and cyberstalking have increased and there are calls for the social networking sites to do more about it.

The Independent reports that the ‘Facebook depression’ as it is known, is caused because “people tend to publicize only good moments, photos, and events in their lives, while hiding the negative ones, users are left with a skewed view of their friends' lives, feeling sad or dull by comparison.”

Recent reports also shockingly claim that more children aged between two and five can use a smartphone (19%) than can tie their own shoelaces (9%).

Tips to stay in control

WebMD interviewed Tim Ferriss, best-selling author of The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, who recommends the following tips:

Turn off your devices for shorts periods of time. Your life won't implode, Ferriss states, but expect a period of withdrawal or anxiety.

Leave your mobile phone and PDA at home one day a week. Ferriss recommends Saturdays. 

Devise a "not-to-do list." For instance, don't check email before 10 a.m., he says. Attempt to set some limits.

Accept the fact you can't respond to 500 emails a day. "A big part is getting over yourself," he said. "You don't have a superhuman email checking ability." 

Learn moderation. Make a note of how many times a day you check your email, or how many times you scan your social networking sites, experts recommend. Realize when you have a problem, and make a practice of not being a slave to your devices.

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