Many consumers worldwide worry that technology is overtaking their lives, finds Euro RSCG Worldwide in an April 2012 report. Dividing the more than 7,000 respondents from 19 countries up into prosumers (leading-edge consumers who are an indicator of what the mainstream will soon be doing and thinking) and mainstream consumers (84% of the sample), the study finds that 59% of the former, and 62% of the latter are concerned about society’s addiction to or over-reliance on technology. And roughly half of each group worries that digital technology and multitasking are impairing people’s ability to think deeply and focus on one task at a time.
This concern could indeed be well-placed, given the recent finding that digital natives switch their attention between media platforms (i.e. TVs, magazines, tablets, smartphones, or channels within platforms) on average 27 times per hour. In fact, just under half of prosumers and mainstream consumers responding to the Euro RSCG survey say that being online distracts them too often.
Majority Say Tech Overload a Concern
Data from Euro RSCG Worldwide’s “This Digital Life” indicates that a majority of consumers around the world are concerned about technology overload, with women 15% more likely than men to report this concern (60% vs. 52%), and mainstream consumers almost 8% more likely than prosumers to be concerned (56% vs. 52%).
55% of prosumers say they find it hard to be without their phone or mobile device, although this drops to 42% among mainstream consumers. According to Arbitron and Edison Research survey results released in April 2012, a whopping 91% of smartphone owners say their device is within arm’s length either always (60%) or most of the time (31%). Indeed, 56% of prosumers and 51% of mainstream consumers say they enjoy deliberately taking breaks from their phones and mobile devices.
Tech to Improve Life, Though
Despite the numerous worries of these concerned citizens, 58% of prosumers and 47% of mainstream consumers say that all in all, digital technology will make life on planet Earth better. By comparison, just 10% of the former group, and 7% of the latter say that it will make life worse. The remaining 34% of prosumers and 44% of mainstream consumers say that it’s too soon to tell.
Indeed, 55% of prosumers and 37% of mainstream consumers say that being online improves their social life, while 52% of the former and 41% of the latter say that being online is one of the few ways they have to express themselves freely.
This is despite 56% of women and 53% of men saying they worry that digital communications are weakening human-to-human bonds, and roughly two-thirds of each group reporting a concern for society’s loss of face-to-face interaction. In fact, according to April 2012 survey results from Badoo, 39% of Americans spend more time socializing online than face-to-face.
- Roughly half of respondents say that they spend too much time working and rushing about and not enough time enjoying their lives. This is certainly a problem for senior executives: according to April 2012 survey results [download page] from Gyro, 85% of senior executives in the US and Europe at least occasionally send and receive work-related emails and have business discussions during vacations.
- A majority of Euro RSCG respondents say they are concerned about information overload. This is also mirrored by results from the Gyro study, which indicate that 52% of senior executives receive business information around the clock, including on weekends.
- Roughly two-thirds of the Euro RSCG survey respondents say they are concerned about society’s fast pace and being always on the go.
- Women are almost 10% more likely than men to say they worry about society’s lack of community and interconnectedness (69% vs. 63%).
- On a somewhat encouraging note, only about one-third of the respondents said that being online interferes with their family life.
About the Data: The Euro RSCG Worldwide data is based on an online survey conducted by Market Probe International of 7,213 adults online in 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, the UK, and the US.
The Badoo data point is from a survey of 2,000 Americans conducted in March and April 2012.
The Gyro report is based on a survey of 543 executives, of which 24% held C-level positions, and 41% were EVP/SVP/VP/director. 316 respondents were from the US, 105 from the UK, and 122 from Continental Europe.