Americans Divided on How Technology Impacts Them

August 26, 2013 ( – A recent poll found that Americans are divided on whether technology impacts their lives in a positive or negative way.

Harris Interactive found that some believe technology has improved the overall quality of their lives (71%) and encourages people to be more creative (65%). However, others believe that technology is creating a lazy society (76%), has become too distracting (69%) and is corrupting interpersonal communications (68%).

In comparison to June of 2012, Americans have become more likely to indicate that technology has become too distracting (from 65% in 2012 to 69% in 2013). Over the same time frame, they were also found to be less likely to agree that technology has improved the overall quality of their lives (78% to 71%), that they use technology as an escape from their busy lives (53% to 47%) and that it enhances their social lives (56% to 52%).

The poll also showed that though Americans were consistently more likely to report a positive impact than a negative one for all aspects tested, many of these perceived positive effects have declined in comparison to 2012, including:

  • Work productivity (down from 42% in 2012 to 34% in 2013);
  • Work life (41% to 34%);
  • Safety and security (42% to 36%);
  • Productivity at home (39% to 34%); and
  • Relationships with family (43% to 39%).

The perception that technology has a negative effect on safety and security has grown by a third in the same period, from 15% in 2012 to 20% in 2013.

Despite all these concerns about technology, the poll showed that Americans still have a hard time unplugging. A majority of those polled said they could make it a week or less without Internet access (68%), a computer/laptop (64%), television (57%) or a mobile phone (56%), with roughly one-fourth going so far as to state outright that they simply could not live without them (28%, 24%, 23% and 26%, respectively).

While poll results showed that younger generations were more likely to own technology, they were not necessarily more affectionate towards technology. Echo Boomers were more likely than their older counterparts to say that technology has a negative impact on their lives. Some examples of this include:

  • Productivity at home (33% Echo Boomers, 21% Gen Xers, 18% Baby Boomers, 13% Matures);
  • Safety and security (25%, 19%, 17%, and 14%, respectively);
  • Relationships with family (18%, 10%, 7%, and 5%, respectively);
  • Work productivity (17%, 9%, 3% and 4%, respectively); and
  • Happiness (15%, 6%, 5% and 4%, respectively).

Both men and women appear conflicted on how technology impacts their lives. Men are more likely to say technology has improved their lives (76% men, 68% women) and that it encourages people to be more creative (69% men, 61% women). Men are also more likely to believe technology has a positive impact on several functional aspects of their lives, such as their safety and security (40% men, 33% women), their work productivity (38% men, 31%, women) and their productivity at home (38% men, 30% women). However, men are more likely to see technology as having a negative effect on their lives in more emotional areas such as their happiness (11% men, 6% women) and their social life (10% men, 6% women).

Women also show some conflicting emotions toward technology. On the one hand, they are more likely than men to believe it has a positive effect on their relationships with friends (51% women, 44% men) and their happiness (44% women, 37% men). On the other hand, they are more likely to believe it has a negative effect on their productivity at home (25% women, 20% men). Women are also more likely than men to agree that technology has become too distracting (73% women, 64% men).

This poll was conducted online within the United States between June 12 and June 17, 2013 among 2,210 adults (aged 18 and over).