July 05, 2011 05:02 ET

Study Shows One In Three People Have Felt Overwhelmed By Communications Technology

Parents Encouraged To Strike A Balance

LONDON, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - July 5, 2011) -

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An international study, led by the University of Cambridge and sponsored by BT, has found that one in three people has felt overwhelmed by communications technology, including texting, email and social networking, to the point that they feel they need to escape it.

The survey of 1,269 people and in-depth interviews with families in the UK also revealed that those people who have frequently felt overwhelmed are also more likely to feel less satisfied with their life as a whole. Conversely, those who felt in control of their use of communications technology were more likely to report higher levels of overall life satisfaction.

This has led BT to suggest a 'five-a-day' Balanced Communications Diet to help families get the most out of communications and improve their well-being.

Core Facts:

  • 38% of 10 – 18 years old claiming feel overwhelmed by technology to the point that they feel they need to escape. 25 - 34 year olds are not far behind, with 34 per cent feeling same way.
  • 65% of those surveyed in the UK cited face-to-face conversation as their preferred method of communication, and was found to be almost the same for both adults (65%) and children (64%)
  • People are consciously controlling their use of technology with 36% of adults and 43% of young people (aged 10 – 18) taking steps to limit usage
  • 42% of adults and children surveyed have prioritised reducing usage of social networking sites, this was followed by a reduction in sending text messages (20%), and then emails (19%)

Other statistics:

  • 36% parents found that technology at least sometimes disrupted family life
  • 58% said that they felt their family would benefit from having technology-free time when all communications technology was switched off
  • 19% use communication technology for more than seven hours per day
  • Future prediction of use: 37% thought their use of communications technology would increase in the future and 54% said that they believe they will be using the same amount of communication technology


  • Professor John Clarkson, director of the Engineering Design Centre at the University of Cambridge and Principal Investigator of the study:

"Communications technology is changing the way that society interacts and now, with the explosion in personal communications devices, WiFi and increasing broadband speeds, is a great time to start charting this change. There is much discussion about whether communications technology is affecting us for the better of worse. The research has shown that communications technology is seen by most as a positive tool but there are examples where people are not managing usage as well as they could be – it is not necessarily the amount but the way in which it is used."

  • Gavin Patterson, chief executive of BT Retail:

"Families and individuals who had rules in place to govern communications technology usage almost universally felt positively about the impact it has on their lives.

"Importantly, the research revealed that technology itself is not the problem. Compare it to food. To stay healthy, you need to eat a balanced diet. The same is true when it comes to using technology; you need to find a balance which works for you. To help with this, we are launching the Balanced Communications Diet, our equivalent of the five a day you need to help maintain a healthy relationship with technology."

  • Susannah Rolph, mother of three from Norwich, who was interviewed for the qualitative part of the study:

"Social networks, mobile email and online gaming are a positive part of modern family life. However, I am aware of being tempted to stay on Facebook or email, or whatever it is, and do 'just a little bit more' online.

"As parents, it is our responsibility to set an example around technology usage, while setting guidelines to help our children maintain some balance. For example we only have one main computer for the family and so we are always aware of who is doing what and we are all physically together sharing the online experience."

  • Sarah Jones, mother of four from Newmarket, who was also interviewed for the study:

"The weekly diary of communications was an eye opener for me and my family. It made me realise that I actually spend more time online than I thought. As a result, I have taken steps to reduce time spent online and, for example I now don't turn the computer on until lunchtime."

About BT:

BT is one of the world's leading providers of communications solutions and services, operating in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to our customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, Openreach, BT Retail and BT Wholesale.

In the year ended 31 March 2011, BT Group's revenue was £20,076 million with profit before taxation of £1,717 million.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

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