Does Technology Affect Happiness?

Description: A study from Stanford University, published Wednesday, wrestles with a new question: How is technology affecting their happiness and emotional development?

Source: nytimes .com

Date: Jan 25, 2012


The research raises as many questions as it seeks to answer, as the scientists readily acknowledge. That is because the research was based on an online survey taken by more than 3,400 girls, a sample that may well not be representative of the larger population and, because the responses are self-reported, are not subject to follow-up or verification by the researchers.

Among the crucial questions that the researchers were not able to answer is whether the heavy use of media was the cause for the relative unhappiness or whether girls who are less happy to begin with are drawn to heavy use of media, in effect retreating to a virtual world.  Read Rest of Story

Questions for discussion:

  1. How is technology affecting their happiness and emotional development?
  2. Do you have confidence in this studies finding? Why or Why not?

72 thoughts on “Does Technology Affect Happiness?

  1. Kerri Ross

    I do not have confidence in these findings because as a fourth year student I have learned that in order to say an article or research study is ‘trust worthy’ it must reach a certain criteria. Only asked a little more than 3000 young girls between the age of 8 and 12 is not a good sample size and doesn’t represent the population adequately. In the article the author mentioned how the researchers did not do a follow up on the survey and I believe that if they had than this study would be more trustworthy. I also feel that before saying ‘technology does impact happiness’ research needs to examine different age groups and both genders. Also, research was not clear what came first: girls who used technology became less happy or unhappy girls used technology. If research can figure out what came first and used a proper sample size with follow up studies I believe this research could be more trustworthy.

  2. Thibaut La Porta

    1.Technology is good, but like most things it should not be abused. A child comes into the world empty of all information, all knowledge. These are the parents, and relationships that are required to learn how to understand this world and participate. If a child becomes trapped in the media, such as overexposure to television or the internet can harm it. Indeed, we are humans. And without other humans, what are we? We live through our interactions with other people on this planet and in general the best exchanges are those done face to face, because we see and hear the person clearly. We can interpret all signals, at least half of the communication with others is non-verbal. How many times have you come to misunderstand someone via sms? To think that the person with whom you spoke was upset whereas finally not at all … The media are useful to inform, to communicate, and occasionally for fun. But a child spending too much time on a screen, can lose his marker and even become addicted like all of us. A child unused to social interactions and found himself in a schoolyard, this child can quickly become withdrawn himself because he does not know how to go towards others or even how to understand correctly. It’s like being comfortable in speaking to an audience during a presentation, for the most we must practice before they feel good, and to know how it happens. Screen protects the child in some way, face to face is directly exposed to his interlocutor. In addition, Facebook can build a kind of friendships, but it would be totally different from reality, to have a friendship must experience things, sharing moments and it can not be done properly in the “real” life. If the child does not learn that, he can quickly find themselves disoriented when he is in society because he does not know how to decipher this world.

    2.Yes and no, this study shows us something, surely a problem. But many things are not checked, and it must be done to find out what is happening and how it works. But this leads us to think, and whether our children (and ourselves) make a good use of the media, and if it is good for their development and well-being. This article gives us direction for reflection and an awareness of irregularity that can lead to certain habits.

  3. Greg Goodwin

    Technology may be impairing the emotional development and happiness of young girls because they lack social behavioral cues that they may have normally picked up on as well as tones of voice. That said, we live in a technologically developing world, and this is something that we are going to have to manage ourselves. Like knowing how to do laundry, or cook for yourself, using technology in a healthy way is something that our generation, and future generations, will have to learn to do.

    I do not necessarily think that the use of social media and technology is the cause of unhappiness on young girls (or boys for that matter). I do however, can get behind the idea that perhaps the younger generation is using this technology too much, and perhaps not using it in a healthy way. Cyber bullying has become a big problem among young people and this kind of bullying can be particularly hard on young, emotional girls. In this respect, then I do think that not having a healthy mix on virtual and real life is essential for happiness and emotional development. Technology is a definite supplement to the social life of each young person today. Social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, or even role playing games such as World of Warcraft can be a serious help in social networking. Of course maintaining moderation.

  4. Mohamed

    I think in today’s society people can’t lead full lives without technology. This study shows that technology use does affect young girls and not mostly in a positive way. With them spending more time on their laptops, cellphones and game systems this gives them less time to interact with people on a person-person basis. With this happening their social skills deteriorate to the point where conversations they have with others in real life are non-existent As humans its essential for us to interact on a personal level and i do believe when a person does not have full social content it does affect their happiness. Although the study does make a lot of sense and I do agree that happiness is affected by technology I don’t believe its fully accurate. If more stats and ages were provided it would have been a very feasible report.

  5. Mohamed

    I think in today’s society people can’t lead full lives without technology. This study shows that technology use does affect young girls and not mostly in a positive way. With them spending more time on their laptops, cellphones and game systems this gives them less time to interact with people on a person-person basis. With this happening their social skills deteriorate to the point where conversations they have with others in real life are non-existent As humans its essential for us to interact on a personal level and i do believe when a person does not have full social content it does affect their happiness. Although the study does make a lot of sense and I do agree that happiness is affected by technology I don’t believe its fully accurate. If more stats and ages were provided it would have been a very feasible report.

  6. Richard Giles

    Technology could very well be effecting the happiness of people because of its implications. In today’s society everything is technology based because it makes everything easier and quicker. The fatal flaw that many people don’t seem to see is it detaches you from the world around you. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites gives people the illusion of interaction but there is no interaction on an emotional level. As a human there is a need for this emotional interaction as well as belonging and so forth so it is obvious without it there would be a less happy individual. The lack of physically socializing with people is a cause for depression and this is what i believe to be the case.

    Second the results found in this study are not very viable at all. First they only surveyed girls so it misses the majority of the population. It is also self reported which has been known to be an inaccurate way to implement a survey. The reason is because of the lack of verification and follow ups. I understand that this is done to reduce cost substantially but a better done survey must be don’t to fully understand technologies effect on the happiness of people.

  7. Delaney

    Technology is stunting youth’s social development and also negatively affecting their happiness. The article discusses that women especially need more face–to-face interaction in order to learn to read body language and facial expressions. If all, or the majority, of interactions occur via cellphone and text messages, women wont be exposed these things. Also if they are physically interacting with another individual but constantly checking their phone or replying to messages than they will not learn the social cues.
    I have confidence in this studies findings. I personally am always happier when i am around other people so I can relate to this article and agree with it.

  8. Nyabac Akorkawg

    With technology readily available, most kids prefer using them to getting involved in social media. They fail to understand that this has an effect on all dimensions of life. They fail to be involved socially in the environment and this is not only with friends and also with their own family members. They fail to understand the basic knowledge of personal relationship and communication skills with others. With technology being available, most kids prefer going deep in to the media to such for role model which may at times end up to be a wrong idea. They also become an aware of their surrounding hence causing danger to their lives. I do have confidence in this studies finding from a personal life experience. I have an eleven old kid who will not involve herself with the sport activities like soccer, swimming lessons and instead prefer to spend her time on the computer and iPod. This makes her to feel socially unfit and can’t relate well with people outside the family members.

  9. xiaochang liu

    The technology is positively and largely affecting girl’s happiness and emotional development. For example, most of girls can be attractive to the technology because of the performance of technology such as sharing their opinions or information. The high technology use in iphone, ipad provides convenience to girls. These technology productions can easily to interact with persons around the world, it offer the platform to let them communicate with each other such as sharing ideas or studying. I have confidence in this studies finding because the technology exists in everywhere. I can find my friends and family by using the technology even they are far away from me. It provide the convenience when I am doing the research, the technology bring the huge amount of information that are useful for my study. The technology gives our simpler lifestyle and it also let our lifestyle become more exciting and happy.

  10. Trishia Whiteknife

    Yes, I do agree, technology does affect happiness. My daughters and I moved here a few months ago. We don’t know anyone here. If it wasen’t for Facebook or Skype we would be very sad 😦 We use social media to allow us to keep in contact with family and friends back home. However, I don’t allow my daughters to use the internet 24/7. I think if there is a balance between technology and interacting with poeple face-to-face its ok. My kids also use technology for entertainment, which is great when your studying and you can’t take them out to the movies. Overall I think technology is a good thing, but in moderation!

  11. qian.rong

    For my opinion, nowadays people are happier than before. We can now watching the 3D movies in the cinema. But in a hundred year ago, people can only watch the black and white movie without any voice. We can now playing xbox360 or PS3 or Wii at home for entertainment. But in a hundred years ago, people don’t even have a computer. We can use the latest iPhone to call anybody we want in anytime. But in a hundred year ago, people can only write letters and send it out to the person they want to keep in touch, and it always take a long time to get reply. All of this is just because we have more advanced technologies than a hundred years ago. We can have more exciting entertainment experience than before and become happier. Advanced technology let your childhood dream became true; give you more happiness and satisfaction. Advanced technology provided more powerful tools that enhanced your life quality. You can now storage your food at home not outside in winter. You won’t feel cold in a house due to air-condition. You can clean your clothes quickly and well due to the washing machine. All of these make you happier.

    1. Preston Crow Chief

      I feel that technology has made people less happier. The use of computers had made it so more information is easy to access. Programs for computers such as netflix are making people lazy which results in people becoming more unfit then many years ago. Being unfit makes people sad therefore making people less happier. I am not too confident of this article because the term technology can mean many different technologies. It does not get into the interactions specifically to each individual type of person but more or less leaves it broad and open to anybodies interpretation.

  12. esther

    The importance of technology cannot be overemphasised.I belive technology as brought significant improvement to the social development of people in general.Social networking as greatly helped to improve the living standard of can be in canada and have friends in europe which gives you a global perspective on social issues.You can learn about their culture and language without been physically present which improves your knowledge, self esteem and confidence in yourself.I really dont have confidence in the study because of the small number of participant and also the information contained in the study is not detailed enough to make me have confidence in it.

  13. Yalun.Li

    Technology affecting their happiness and emotional development in many way. Some of them are good but most are bad. In the one hand, the technology will allow them to understand the world, understand the national and cultural knowledge. Enrich their imagination. at the same time, Through many social networking sites allows them to close the social and cultural. They feel curious about the world; they will get a lot of pleasure. On the other hand. Technology gives them less happy and less socially comfortable because they spend most time on screens. Form the technology, they cannot feel people real emotion, they lost many feeling from computer, and there is no touch, no body language, and no voice. It will make them stay a virtual world. Just like researchers says, ”is that on a basic, even primitive level, girls need to experience the full pantheon of communication that comes from face-to-face contact, such as learning to read body language, and subtle facial and verbal cues”.

    I have confidence in this studies finding. Because I find technology is a Double-edged sword. The proper use of the computer will make people understand the world better. And bring it to easy and fun to people’s lives. Being reasonable use of the computer for everyone, also do not let the child premature and excessive use of computer will prevention a lot of bad things.

  14. Karissa

    I think that technology is severely affecting the happiness and emotional development of girls. I think now with the use of social media sites like Faceook, Twitter, and Instagram girls use these sites as an outlet and a way to make others jealous. For example one might post a photo of her and a shopping mall captioning saying how much fun she is having and how much she bought, but in reality she may have had to walk for an hour to get there, and didn’t have money to buy anything. Others seeing the photo are jealous, and immediately think that they are not as cool as that girl. This relates back to the theory that girls over estimate how happy they are and since they are perceiving to others how happy they are, others will continue the cycle making girls even more unhappy then they were to begin with. Since girls are very emotional, even at a young age I think very important to limit the use of technology in younger girls and encourage social interaction. If girls feel that they would rather play video games, or surf the internet than interact in a social setting, the decrease in interaction between girls has led to a decrease in social skills and the inability to interact in society. I defiantly am confident in these finding as I have 2 younger siblings and being able to watch them grow up with more technology then me I find it crazy how much my 15 year old sister relays on technology for everything, including school work.

    1. Donna Wang

      In the modern society, everyone use the computers, smart phones, something like that to communicate with others. People can not imagine the life without these machines. These machines make people communicate with each other more convenient, and extend their social circle, however, it also make people do not really understand other people. For example, we always make friends through internet, and always chat with our friends online. However, sometimes when we talk to them, they can not understand your thoughts. Communicating online can not clearly show your feeling sometimes, because it will be showed through your body language, expressions on their faces, and also voices. However, techniques can not solve this kind of questions, many people feel that their friends do not know him, and feel sad because of that. On the other hand, there are many cheating cases happened online. Due to the lack of face and voice, some of people pretend to be your friend online, but the purpose for them is try to make a financial scams. Therefore, although I always make friends online, I will spend time with my family and friends together in the real life, that make our relationship remain close, and reduce the chances to produce conflicts.

  15. ayo

    With all the importance of technology in our daily lives i strongly believe it has taken away a very vital aspect of our human existence which is face to face interaction.Technology as made it difficult for people to develop appropriate social norms and ethics that comes with face to face interaction.I strongly feel a child should be allowed to socially interact face to face with peer befor been allowed to start communication through social network media and also the child should be monitored by the parent or guardian until the age of maturity.I have confidence in the findings (although it has its shortcoming)because with personal observation i have noticed the trend in our young adults.I strongly believe technology should be encouraged but also be monitore untill the child reaches the stage of maturity

  16. Mary

    This article is interesting as it explores technology in relation to teenage girl happiness. This is definitely a topic that needs to be considered as the world at large is continually becoming increasingly reliant on technology. I definitely think that it is possible that those who have trouble in social situations are drawn to technological interaction at a higher rate because this is an environment they can feel comfortable in. If they have self-esteem issues or are shy, it can be much easier for them to communicate over the internet where they can feel safe and not judged. This being said, it is even more crucial for these individuals to ensure they still are having face to face contact in order to ensure their fear of social interaction does not get any worse. In order to become better at something it is important to continue working at something. For those who do have trouble in social situations the only thing that will ease this fear is practice. While technological use can definitely be beneficial, it is important to use it in moderation and ensure that you are still interacting with others in face to face situations. It is my prediction that as time goes on, children will increasingly be raised on technology. This could in turn have dire consequences to the overall social interactions in society.

  17. Brady Figley

    This article is rather vague and doesn’t differentiate as much between different technologies. Overall, I think moderate use of hardware, software, and social media as a complement to daily activities is a good thing and can help achieve happiness. For example, I do a lot of road biking on the highway and use my cellphone as a music player and a camera to document parts of my travels. In this example, my experience has been enhanced greatly by technology. Overall, I don’t think people whose entire lives are spent using the “latest” technology are that happy. People need to use technology to compliment what is already making them happy, not as a substitute. I think people need to use technology in a more organic way; vis-a-vis, helping them explore nature and having fun outside. It saddens me to see people or children for that matter sitting inside playing video games on a nice warm summer’s day instead of going out and exploring the world and actually interacting with others. When you consider the high rates of obesity, diabetes, and how many people are now living sedentary lifestyles it would be convenient to blame technological abuse. Rather, I would simply suggest that we need to use technology to assist people into living a simpler lifestyle, if that makes sense.


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