Technology Affects 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?

61 thoughts on “Technology Affects Happiness?

  1. shane

    I believe that studying how technology affects the happiness and emotional development is very much needed because of how many people are dependent on technology. I believe research like this is a good concept. Even though the study was reviewed, there are still many issues with it. As the article says, 3400 girls participated in the study. Due to the sample size this small, the data that was collected may not be the best projection for the larger population. The responses were self-reported, many of the participants could have been dishonest with their answers. There is also no way for the information to be verified. Due to it being an online survey, researchers don’t have anyway to get any context about the participants who answered the questions. The researchers also have no idea whether the people who answered the survey where actually in the age range. There was no way for the researchers to determine if the heavy use of media was the cause unhappiness or if girls are drawn to a heavy use of media. I believe that this study doesn’t work.

  2. Mark(Xiangyuan Ma)

    I don’t think the study is reliable because it is just an online survey and only for girls. However, it speaks the truth. I believe all the people need full pantheon of communication which comes from face-to-face contact not only girls. When people talk face to face, they can see each other’s eye contact( which is really important in some cultures), facial expression, gestures, and listen to their tons. It is an observation skill and really important. I’ve seen a TV show called “Lie to me” which explains how microexpression work. It indicate that people lie but their unconscious movement and facial expression can not be hide. I admit that we need use technology to improve our work efficiency and we need to know lots of them to adapt nowadays life. However, I believe that spend too much time on the multimedia is not a wise movement, especially for teenagers who haven’t establish their view for the live, world, and life. Computers are used by people but they can never replace people. It doesn’t have emotions and it will never have. In conclusion, I think that it is not technology affecting their happiness and emotional development, it is they way they deal with the technology did that, and it can be changed in right way.

  3. bayo adejumo

    I believe technology affects happiness relatively considering the view from this survey I don’t think the sample space used to approach this study is big enough considering how strong the word happiness.
    Technology like Ms. Gray said is “it’s a double-edged sword,” I totally support that thou it might have a more negative effect in the future, at the early stage of life kids get to enjoy technology and most parents tend to expose their kids to technology to avoid spending time with them in other to focus on other things which can be good and also have a negative effect on the kid on the long based on supervision. . Emotionally I think the technology has brought happiness for ladies in the area of meeting people. I believe this study can be relied on if there a wider survey.

  4. Julie Anderson

    According to this study, there is a correlation between the amount of time spent online and the happiness levels in adolescent girls. The study cites a few reasons this correlation may exists. Face to face social interaction is an important component in social development. Children must learn how to judge situations by body language. They must also learn to think on their feet without taking their time to reply, as you can when you text. These are real life skills that seem simple enough to us, but can be challenging if you have never had the chance to develop them. The dangers of miscommunication are quite real with online interaction. Even I have had instances where I have misjudged someone’s tone through text messages. It is difficult to fully communicate everything that you mean to say through words alone. Though the article did not mention it, I believe that cyber-bullying could be a factor to the girls’ happiness levels or lack thereof. There is also an ease of communication online where you have the freedom to say what you otherwise would not in person. This form of verbal assault can have obvious effects on a girls confidence and happiness. I believe that girls would be happier with less screen time and more time spent being active, outdoors in the real world with real friends. While I believe this, I don’t have total trust in this article. It is very difficult to verify the process by which these results were obtained.

  5. Britney Anderson

    I believe that there is some merit to the issues being discussed in the article. In my opinion, technology has the ability to affect a child’s emotional development and happiness. Excessive usage of technology can affect the amount of social interaction that a child engages in. As the article mentioned, children need face-to-face social interaction at a young age to develop their social skills and learn to recognize both verbal and non-verbal social cues. If children rely heavily on technology as their main form of communication and entertainment at a young age, it can have an immense impact on the communication skills that they develop. It is astounding that the girls surveyed reported using technology for an average of 6.9 hours per day. When I was a child, I did not have a cell phone, or a laptop. I was allowed to watch a few hours of TV per day, but I spent a lot of my leisure time reading books, playing with friends outside, playing sports, etc. I believe that children are beginning to rely too heavily on technology, and these children are missing out on fun and important learning experiences that come from face-to-face interactions. As the article mentioned, it is difficult to convey and interpret emotion through text-based forms of communication, such as text messaging and instant messaging. I personally do not enjoy communicating with friends and family via e-mail, text messages, etc. It is much more gratifying to talk to people face-to-face. I also think that reliance on technology at a young age also negatively affects a child’s linguistic skills as well. The short hand jargon and slang children use in text messages is not appropriate for formal written communication.

    Although I agree with the issues raised in the article, I do not have much confidence in the statistical significance of the findings. The article raises some really good questions, which may be topics for further research studies. The survey was conducted online, and there was no follow up done afterwards by the researchers. Online surveys may not be as useful in collecting research information, since participants may not meet the criteria of the research study (e.g. gender) and survey questions may be misinterpreted by participants. The researchers also did not perform a similar study on boys, which is important to explore to determine if gender has any significance or not. Also, the survey did not differentiate the age of participants, which I also believe is important.

  6. Nothando Ngwenya

    I definitely believe that technology has a great impact on the happiness that people feel on a day-to-day basis. Although it is a great invention that has helped people become more productive with just about anything they do, technology has tended to become more than just a tool for productivity. Instead of being more of a third limb, it has become a friend to many. This can be seen by the fact that, even when people are with their loved ones “in the flesh”, they are still seen to “hang out” with technology as it were. In a group of people, especially the younger generations, it is almost impossible not to have at least one person on some form of technology, at some point in time. This goes to show that society is so socially impaired to the point that people cannot get simple joy from just being in the same physical space with others; they have to, instead, be attached to their virtual worlds somehow so that they can feel happiness in its fulness, or simple completion. May studies before this, have been made and many surveys have been carried out that show how much people lose of themselves when they are unable to be in their virtual worlds. There has to be a valid reason behind the fact that the baby boomer generation is found to be complaining, rather constantly, about the amount of time that the current generation spends on technological devices. They see the changes that occur within society because of it — we have babies being silenced by ipads and teenagers throwing tantrums over the fact that they have to spend a few hours with their families and without their devices, at the same time. This is different from a child being angry because they cannot play outside when it become too dark. They know that outside comes and goes with the rising and the setting of the sun, and they also know that whoever they play with outside will be there the following day to provide them with 3-dimensional happiness that can only be found with human interaction and will never disappoint. Technology on the other hand, does not give this guarantee and yet still manages to affect people more than it needs to. When you find people expressing more dread with not being able to use their technology than with losing a loved one, you know that technology affects happiness and this needs to be dealt with. Our great invention needs to go back to being no more than a third limb, and not a main friend.

  7. yuxuan.hou

    based on the information mentioned by this article, i almost do not believe that this article is accurate and important that technology could totally affect human’s happiness and emotion even though some analysis of this article is reasonable..even though some technology could affect some people’s surface emotion, but it is too weak to affect people’s internal emoticon. technology plays an very important role in the daily life. each coin has its two side. technology could be positive or negative expression.

  8. Jessica Larsen

    I think that studying how technology affects the happiness and emotional development of people is needed very much right now because of how many people are dependent on technology. Though I truly believe research like the one this study was trying to do is great, I do not have much confidence in the findings of this study. Even though the study was peer reviewed, there are many things that are amiss with it. As the article itself mentions, only 3400 girls participated in the study. With a sample size this small, the data found may not be representative of the larger population. Also because the responses were self-reported, many girls could have been dishonest about their answers in the survey. There is also no way for researchers to follow up or verify the information either. And because it was an online survey researchers have no way to get any context about the girls who answered the questions, and they also have no idea whether the people who answered the survey where actually girls between the ages of 8 and 12. Lastly, there was no way for the researchers to determine if the heavy use of media was the cause of the relative unhappiness or if girls who are less happy are drawn to a heavy use of media. These two variables could not have a relationship of causation. They could merely be correlated. While one could cause the other, they both could be caused by some entirely different variable that was not taken into consideration in the research. Therefore, because of the numerous amount of problems with the study I do not have confidence in the study’s findings.


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