Modern Technology – a Uniter and a Divider in homes

HOUSEHOLDS across Ireland are going through a significant digital transformation, with increased usage of smartphones, Kindles and iPads creating an “always on” mentality, according to the first ever eircom Household Sentiment Survey (eHSS) released this week.

HOUSEHOLDS across Ireland are going through a significant digital transformation, with increased usage of smartphones, Kindles and iPads creating an “always on” mentality, according to the first ever eircom Household Sentiment Survey (eHSS) released this week.

80% believe technology has a positive impact in the home

52% claim to use tech devices when together at home

67% believe that technology causes arguments in the home

34% of Smartphone owners believe we are the same online as offline

46% claim to sleep better with a mobile phone next to the bed

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The first nationwide in-depth survey of its kind has shown how modern technology is shaping our lives and influencing our behavior, with some interesting results. On the plus side, 80% of respondents believe that technology has a positive impact on Irish households.

Specifically, 27% believe that technology is helping us keep in touch, 23% believe it helps us communicate and 17% believe technology brings family and friends together.

In what is a clear indication that the “tech takeover” is impacting home life in Ireland more and more, 52% of respondents claim that families now spend more time on different tech devices when they are together.

However, out of those surveyed, 17% of respondents still think technology is a barrier to communication and some 67% of respondents believe technology causes arguments in the home. The new “rules of engagement” are also becoming an area of contention in Irish homes as smartphone users, in particular, push the boundaries on domestic phone etiquette – i.e. what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.

While Ireland is a nation of talkers and texters and technology is having a clear impact on Irish homes, 53% of respondents admit to sending or receiving a text they have not understood (73% of 16 – 24 year olds admit this!) and some 46% admit to misinterpreting texts received or having their own texts misinterpreted (69% of 16 – 24 year olds admit this!).

Irish men and women are not always technically ‘in synch’ either, with 46% of men believing it is acceptable to “text a colleague after work hours or at the weekend”, compared to 36% of women.

It’s not just a case of male versus female in Irish homes, but also older versus younger, as the growing use of text “speak” and acronyms among the younger, more tech- savvy generation is causing confusion amongst the older demographic.

Interestingly, in what may be a clear case of ‘house angel, Facebook devil’, just 34% of respondents who own a smartphone (39% of respondents) believe they are the same online as offline.

Technology is also a source of added security in Irish homes – with 46% of respondents claiming to sleep better with a mobile phone next to their bed, compared to 21% who cite an alarm as giving them a better sleep at night.

Furthermore, 51% of women claim to feel safer by having a mobile phone next to them at night, compared to 40% of men.

Commenting on the survey findings, Carolan Lennon, Chief Marketing Officer, eircom said: “The results of our first eircom Household Sentiment Survey have given us some new insights into just how much technology is influencing every aspect of our lives - with some interesting consequences - both positive and negative.

“It’ll be interesting to see how we become more accustomed to this new way of living as new technologies develop and awareness and knowledge of how to use technology grows over the next few years.”

David Coleman, Clinical Psychologist, who worked with eircom on the survey said, “The results of the eircom survey are interesting on a number of levels. One thing that struck me very forcibly is that while many households and families aspire to bonding together in a more traditional fashion, around a board game for example, the survey shows that aspiration doesn’t match today’s reality.

“In fact, the most common scenario is the family all together, but interacting with separate pieces of technology. So, someone may be on the laptop, someone else is playing a computer game, while the iPad or Kindle may be engaging someone else.

“Communications technology is here to stay and what the eircom survey demonstrates is that families are trying to work out how they will integrate it all and make it fit with their lifestyles and family habits.”

David Coleman concluded, “While undoubtedly people being incessantly on their phone or laptop causes arguments in some cases, or work can encroach more on home life, most people feel happier that modern technology helps them keep in touch with their friends and family and helps also make them feel safer, such as having a mobile to contact teenage children or by the bed at night.”