Report: One-Third of Us Feel ‘Overwhelmed’ by Technology

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If you were one of those people who greeted the launch of Google’s new Google+ social network with the words: “Oh no, not another one,” then you may be interested to know that you’re not the only one.

A study conducted by academics at the University of Cambridge and U.K.-based telco giant BT says that one in three people feel “overwhelmed” by technology. Surprisingly, the study claims that a third of adults, and an amazing 43% of 10- to 18-year-olds, are already trying to cut down or control their use of social technology.

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A digression: Let’s pause for a moment and consider the nature of “survey” stories. They’re a classic ploy for publicity by public relations companies engaged to get column inches for their clients. Usually, their conclusions are little more than “Most people love widgets, according to a survey by Widgets, Inc.,” which is never very interesting to write, let alone read.

This survey has better credentials than most, though. It was undertaken by a team from the University’s Engineering Design Centre, lead by Anna Mieczakowski – whose job title is “BT Research Fellow”. There’s the connection. Digression over.

The survey studied the communications habits of families in the U.S., U.K., Australia and China. Each person was asked to keep a diary of all their communications activities for a week. Did they talk face to face, or use technology – if so, which one? After that, a follow-up survey was sent out to 1000 individuals in each country.

Some of the stats that emerge are interesting. One third of parents said technology can disrupt family life. Nearly 20% said they used tech for more than seven hours a day, and 37% expected this figure to rise in future. You can download the full report as three fat PDF files from this BT blog post.

No matter what BT’s ulterior motives were for publishing this study, there’s an underlying point to consider: Do you need to be online as much as you are? Do you need to sit in front of screens as much as you do? Could you keep in touch with some people in different ways? Do you really, truly, honestly, need a Google+ account?

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