Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Does Technology Make Us Happier, Smarter, More Productive?

Most of us can’t seem to go a day without our precious digital devices by our side. But is modern technology really making us happier and more efficient? Results of a recent Harris Poll, suggest that many adults are divided on the pros and cons of modern technology. Try raising this question over Thanksgiving dinner with your relatives and you’ll see what we mean.

On the plus side, seven out of ten adults (71%) believe technology has improved the overall quality of their lives and more than two-thirds (68%) say it encourages people to be more creative. On the flip side, nearly three fourths of respondents (73%) believe technology is creating a lazy society, while almost that many (69%) say it’s too distracting. What’s more, nearly three in five respondents (59%) say technology is having a negative impact on literacy. How do these results stack up to your straw poll of family members?

Sure, two-thirds of Americans (63%) told pollsters that technology helps them learn new skills, but the majority of respondents said technology has a negative effect on:

  • Their relationships with friends (54%)
  • Their ability to live life the way they want (55%)
  • Their happiness (57%)
  • Their social life (58%)

Think about those stats before you bend over backwards trying to look cool and master every shiny new tech toy that comes down the pike.

Generational differences

As expected, Millennials are more likely than older generations to say technology has had a positive effect on key areas of their lives and researchers found that men of all ages are somewhat more likely than women to be technology zealots. So if your clients are primarily young adult males (i.e. tech entrepreneurs) then definitely hit the social, mobile, IoT pedal hard. But one size won’t fit all when it comes to your thought leadership marketing and client engagement. You’ll need to customize for each cohort.

Generational Effects of Technology
Gen Xers
Baby Boomers
Ability to learn new skills
Relationships with friends
Ability to live life the way they want
Social life
Relationships with family
Source: Harris Poll report, November 2015

As the chart above shows, we were especially struck by the generational differences about technology’s perceived impact on relationships with friends, social life and family. Why do you care? Well where do you think most of your “word of mouth” referrals come from?

While Millennials may be the most likely group to say technology positively affects their relationships, and the ones most likely to say it enhances their social life, their family and friends feel differently. Also, Millennials are more likely than any other generation to say their friends/family think they use technology too much.

Gender differences regarding technology

Men and women of all ages tend to differ when it comes to technology’s effect on their lives:

  • Women are more likely than men to say technology has become too distracting (76% vs. 70% of men) and that it gets upgraded/updated too quickly (67% vs. 57%).
  • They’re also more likely to believe it has a negative effect on their productivity at home (30% vs. 17%) and safety and security (18% vs. 13%).
  • That said, women are more likely than men to say technology can be used as an escape from their busy lives (50% vs. 43%).
A majority of men are more likely than women to believe technology has a positive impact on several functional aspects of their lives:
  • This includes their ability to learn new skills (67% vs. 60% of women)
  • To live life the way they want (50% vs. 40%)
  • Their work productivity (43% vs. 29%)
If you don’t think gender differences matter, then consider how you approach couples who come in to see you during discovery meetings and regular client updates. Are you really connecting with both spouses? But regardless of gender, technological devices have surpassed even TV as staples of daily life they CANNOT live without:
  • Without Internet access (67%)
  • A computer/laptop (60%)
  • Mobile phone (59%)
  • Television (55%)

That’s right. American can now go longer without television than they can go without their mobile phones, computers and Internet access. So when you sit down with friends and family this Thanksgiving, put down your devices, have a real-life conversation or two with the important people in your lives and give thanks for all of our modern conveniences. You don’t need to use them 24/7 in order to appreciate them.

Our blog has more about this and related topics.


Technology distraction, addicted to tech, Thanksgiving

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