Study shows nearly half of Scots have felt overwhelmed by communications technology

An international study, led by Cambridge University, has found that nearly a half (48%) of Scots have felt overwhelmed by communications technology, including texting, email and social networking - to the point that they feel they need to escape it.

However, some simple steps have been identified to help improve well-being and to avoid technology overwhelming family life according to the BT-sponsored study.

Despite most families seeing communications technology as a positive tool, a UK-wide survey conducted as part of the study revealed that feeling overwhelmed by communications technology is similar for adults and children - with 38% of 10-18 years old claiming to feel this way and 25 – 34 year olds not far behind, with 34% of that age group feeling overwhelmed.

Furthermore, the survey of 1269 people and in-depth interviews with UK families revealed that those people who have frequently felt overwhelmed are also more likely to feel less satisfied with their life as a whole.

Conversely, those who felt in control of their use of communications technology were more likely to report higher levels of overall life satisfaction.

This led BT to introduce a ‘five-a-day’ Balanced Communications Diet to help families get the most out of communications.

The research highlighted that children in the UK still preferred face-to-face communicate rather than communication through technology.

Moreover, 65%of those surveyed cited face-to-face conversation as their preferred method of communication. This was actually found to be almost the same for both adults (65%) and children (64%).

The study found that many people are consciously controlling their use of technology with 36% of adults and 43% of young people (aged 10 – 18) taking steps to limit usage.

More than a half (52%) of Scots have prioritised reducing usage of social networking sites; this was followed by a reduction in sending texts (17 %) and then emails (16%).

In addition to the UK, the study also covered the US, Australia and China. Other findings in the UK include:

• Disruption to family life: 36% of parents surveyed found that technology at least sometimes disrupted family life.

• Technology free time: 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.

• Amount of technology use: Nearly one in five people (19%) use communication technology for more than seven hours per day.

• Future prediction of use: Around a third (37%) thought their use of communications technology would increase in the future and half (54%) said that they believe they will be using the same amount of communication technology.

Using the research, BT has identified the ‘five a day’ in order to half families maintain a 'Balance Communications Diet', which might be used to help them have a healthy relationship with these technologies.

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