Do Gadgets Really Make Our Lives More Complicated?

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A new study published by Ad Age takes a look at the various ways new technologies—in particular, e-readers and tablets—influence the lives of the affluent, concluding that at the end of the day, additive technologies make life more complicated than not.

Assuming that “affluent” means households earning annual median incomes of $100,000 or more, the study showed some unsurprising findings: 98% of them are online for at least 25 hours a week; two-thirds own a TV recorder, with 58% of them fast-forwarding through commercials; and 52% of them own smartphones or equivalent devices, not accounting for the much broader spectrum of overall cell phone owners (smartphones and feature phones, combined).

So nothing too significant, and it’s important to note that there’s no mention of this study’s sample size. The study also supports some Nielsen assumptions from earlier this year, stating that 14% of affluents own a tablet, and another 15% plan to purchase one in the next 12 months.

But the crux of the findings hones in on some subjective feedback from affluent survey takers, in which they state that the influx of new technologies has made their lives “more complicated” and “more stressful.” Fewer than half, the study says, found that new supplemental devices like tablets and e-readers made everyday living “more fun” or “easier.”

The study doesn’t dive into exactly why this is, but if I had to guess from the study’s assumption of the term “affluents,” it likely targeted an older, more professionally established demographic. And regardless of how user-friendly a new technology is, there’s undoubtedly a learning curve that must be overcome. Personally, having a tablet in my life has augmented my leisure time for the better (it’s useful for checking stats while watching something like the NBA playoffs, for example), and while it does eat into my time using other devices, it’s proved more useful than not for a lot of things.

Still, the study raises some interesting questions, so I’m informally posing them to you: Have new technologies made your life easier? What kind of devices are you using? Have they made everyday life better? More complicated? More “fun”? I’m curious to see how technology’s made your lives better… or perhaps it hasn’t.

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