Americans’ views regarding the infiltration of digital networks and information and communications technology (ICT) into just about every aspect of their lives is a bit complicated. Strong majorities believe all this digital ICT is creating a lazy society (73 percent). On the other hand, 71 percent believe it has improved the overall quality of life, according to The Harris Poll.
Furthermore, more than 7 in 10 Americans (73 percent) of the 2,220 adults Harris surveyed online this past June believe ICT has become too distracting. Seven in 10 (69 percent) said that it’s ¨corrupting interpersonal communications,¨ and nearly 6 in 10 (59 percent) said it’s having a negative impact on literacy.
In terms of positive impacts, 7 in 10 (68 percent) said ICT encourages people to be more creative. Well over 4 in 10 (46 percent) said it has improved their relationships with friends.
Furthermore, 45 percent said it has had a positive effect on their ability to live their lives the way they want. Forty-three percent said it has had a positive effect on their happiness, while 42 percent said the same with regard to their social lives.
Attitudes Toward ICT
Lower percentages said ICT has had a positive effect on their work productivity (36 percent), as well as on their work life (35 percent). Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) disagreed.
Examining responses across different age groups, the latest Harris Poll results show that Millennials are more likely to say that technology has had a positive effects on just about all aspects of their lives. This includes:
- Ability to learn new skills (72% vs. 59% Gen Xers, 60% Baby Boomers & 56% Matures),
- Relationships with friends (59% vs. 46%, 36% & 34%),
- Ability to live life the way they want to (53% vs. 43%, 39% & 40%),
- Happiness (52% vs. 42%, 37% & 38%),
- Social life (57% & 42%, 30% & 29%), and
- Relationships with family (46% vs. 36%, 33% & 27%).
Harris highlights one exception — the effect ICT has had on productivity. Millennials are more likely than those in other age groups to say that ICT has had a negative effect on their productivity at home – 32 percent as compared to 21 percent of Gen X’ers, 20 percent of Baby Boomers and 14 percent of Matures. That goes for productivity at work, as well – 14 percent as compared to 8, 3 and 2 percent, respectively.
Millennials were also the most likely to say ICT has had a positive effect on their relationships and social lives – 67 percent vs. 53 percent of Gen X’ers, 36 percent of Baby Boomers and 40 percent of Matures. In addition, Millennials are more likely to believe their friends and family think they use technology too much – 46 percent as compared to 27 percent of Gen X’ers, 13 percent of Baby Boomers and 11 percent of Matures.
Turning to the effects of ICT among those of different genders Harris Poll found:
- Women are more likely than men to hold the negative opinions that 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%).
- However, women don’t find it all bad. They’re also more likely than men to say they use it as an escape from their busy lives (50% vs. 43%).
Furthermore, most men are more likely to believe technology has had a positive effect on several functional aspects of their lives, Harris points out:
- This includes their ability to learn new skills (67% vs. 60% of women) and to live life the way they want (50% vs. 40%).
- Men are also more likely to believe technology positively impacts their safety and security (45% vs. 34% of women), their productivity at home (44% vs. 28%), their work productivity (43% vs. 29%), and their work life (42% vs. 29%).
Just over one-quarter (26 percent) said could live without sex and 23 percent said the same for computers. Nearly 2 in 10 (18 percent) said the same about Internet access. So, Harris notes, more Americans said they could live without sex than Internet access or their computer.