3% of Americans Afraid of Technology

As technology continues to seep into seemingly every aspect of everyday life ‰ÛÒ and with familiarity so often breeding contempt ‰ÛÒ it should come as no surprise that it rubs some Americans the wrong way. More Than 7 in 10 Americans Think Technology has Become Too Distracting and is Creating a Lazy Society. However, strong majorities also believe it encourages people to be creative and has improved the overall quality of their lives.

Many adults remain divided on how technology impacts the way we live our lives. On the one hand, strong majorities believe that technology has improved the overall quality of their lives (71%) and encourages people to be more creative (68%). But at the same time, strong majorities also believe technology is creating a lazy society (73%), has become too distracting (73%), is corrupting interpersonal communications (69%), and is having a negative impact on literacy (59%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Pollå¨ of 2,220 adults surveyed online between June 17 and 22, 2015.

On an encouraging note, a majority of Americans say technology has had a positive effect on their ability to learn new skills (63%). Over four in ten also say technology has a positive effect on:

  • Their relationships with friends (46%),
  • Their ability to live life the way they want (45%),
  • Their happiness (43%), and
  • Their social life (42%).

A plurality says the same of its effect on their work productivity (36%) and their work life (35%).

While a plurality (36%) believes technology has a positive effect on their productivity at home, it‰Ûªs worth noting that nearly one quarter (23%) disagree with this sentiment.

Generational gaps

It‰Ûªs well known that different generations hold differing opinions when looking at any aspect of technology ‰ÛÒ be it usage, adoption, or general attitudes. Knowing that Millennials are traditionally the most attuned to their tech devices, it comes as no surprise that this group is more likely to say technology has had a positive effect on nearly all aspects tested, including:

  • 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 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%).

However, there is a key exception ‰ÛÒ their productivity. Millennials are more likely than all other generations to say technology has had a negative effect on their productivity both at home (32% vs. 21% Gen Xers, 20% Baby Boomers & 14% Matures) and at work (14% vs. 8%, 3% & 2%).

While Millennials may be the most likely group to say technology positively affects their relationships and the most likely to say it enhances their social life (67% vs. 53% Gen Xers, 36% Baby Boomers & 40% Matures), their family and friends might feel differently. Millennials also happen to be more likely than any other generation to say their friends/​family think they use technology too much (46% vs. 27% Gen Xers, 13% Baby Boomers & 11% Matures).

Gender divides

Men and women offer some differing opinions on how technology affects their lives as well.

  • 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‰Ûªre 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‰Ûªt find it all bad. They‰Ûªre also more likely than men to say they use it as an escape from their busy lives (50% vs. 43%).

Meanwhile, men are more likely than women to see the positive aspects.

A majority of men are more likely to believe technology has a positive impact on several functional aspects of their lives.

  • 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%).

How willing are Americans to unplug?

Despite many concerns, it‰Ûªs clear Americans still have a hard time unplugging. When faced with a list of technological devices and general life staples and asked how long they could live without each, majorities of Americans indicate that they could make it a week or less without Internet access (67%), a computer/​laptop (60%), mobile phone (59%), or television (55%), with over two in ten going so far as to state that they simply could not live without them (27%, 22%, 26% and 21%, respectively).

Just to add a dash of perspective, about four in ten said they could only make it a week or less (or not at all) without caffeine (42%) or sex (39%), with roughly two in ten saying they could not live without them ‰ÛÒ period (20% and 18%, respectively).

So what can Americans live without? Just over one quarter (26%) say they could live without sex altogether, while just 23% say the same of their computers and 18% say the same about Internet access. In other words, more Americans say they can live without sex than say they can live without the Internet or their computer!

And on THAT note, let's talk about how AudienceSCAN found that 2.5% of Americans are "afraid of technology." 62% of Technophobes are women, and 24% are older than 65. With most of them kickin' it old-​school, you can see why the most popular leisure activity among Technophobes is attending flea markets, with 35% planning to go. Also, 38% use regular cell/​mobile phones (not smartphones) primarily. For being fraidy cats, a surprising 73% admit to using Facebook. To target Technophobes, use TV (47% get most of their local news there) and newspapers (32% took action from a print ad in the past month).

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.