A BT-funded Cambridge University study involving households from Australia, the US, UK, and China has found that Australians are the most overwhelmed by communications technologies.
The research covered the responses of 14 Australian, 7 US, 16 UK and 26 Chinese families (PDF).
Forty per cent of Australians that took part in the research felt overwhelmed “to the point of needing to escape”, compared to 37 per cent for the US and UK, and a cool 17 per cent for Chinese families.
The researchers’ findings had as much to do with perception as it did the actual ability to handle technology.
Australians felt that they failed to take control of how technology is used within the family, which impacted a person’s sense of “well-being”.
Families that “expressed feelings of control” tended to feel more positive towards their interactions with technology, according to the researchers.
Having a sense of control over technology “would contribute to overall well-being, whereas feeling overwhelmed would lead to decreased well-being,” the researchers‘ hypothesised,
The study looked at both children and parent attitudes towards technology. While parents perceived greater challenges separating work from home life, some children had trouble separating their social lives.
Australians and British households also revealed a more widespread preference for face-to-face communications compared with families from the US and China.
Fifty-nine per cent of Australians and 65 per cent of British households preferred face to face, while Americans were more closely aligned to Chinese families, with 50 and 46 per cent respectively. Chinese families relied heavily on instant messaging to communicate.
But Australians shared more in common with Chinese families in the time spent per day using communications technologies. Just under 65 per cent of the respondents from families in both nations spent under three hours using technology, compared with around 50 per cent for the US and UK.