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BizReport : Internet : July 15, 2013

Tech fatigue prompts a desire to disconnect

Taking a break from technology is not only good for a person's eyesight, it also encourages in-person social connections and improves life satisfaction. However, over-indulgence is prompting some to disconnect, according to various studies.

by Helen Leggatt

There's a hot debate among my fellow extramural University colleagues. As distance-learning students, should we now be relying purely on technology-based learning materials, or should traditional paper and textbook options still be encouraged alongside ebooks, lecture videos, online assignment submission, and PDF-file readings?

Just as the ages and locations of extramural students at Massey University in New Zealand are wide and varied, so are views on using only technology in education. The majority of extramural students hold down full- or part-time jobs, including parenting, and are already spending hours with technology and in front of screens, before they get down to study.

Advocates of a paperless, and therefore more environmentally-friendly, distance-learning experience, believe students should be encouraged to give up using paper-based study guides and be steered towards using computers or mobile devices.

For others it is not the use of paper that is the concern, but that students would be better prepared for a work environment if they focused on using features, such as the use of cloud storage, social networks, and information management tools, to manage studies across multiple platforms.

But some students, even the most connected, tech-savvy, gadget-embracing among them, stressed that while they have the means to study in a paperless fashion, they prefer to take a break from technology and employ more traditional methods.

Trading Tech for In-Person

This need to 'escape' technology is doubtless experienced by many whose lives today are saturated with connected gadgets. Research by ad-agency The Buntin Group and Survey Sampling International, for Chinet, found technology fatigue also occurring among social media users, reports eMarketer.

More than half (54%) of participants in the research said they had ditched technology in favor in-person interactions a few times in the past year; 62% planned to spend less time with social media, replacing it with in-person communications.

Emotional Experience

Stepping back from online socializing not only encourages face-to-face interaction, it can also improve a person's state of mind. Recent research by two German universities found a third of Facebook users have a negative emotional experience on the social network.

Those negative feelings, such as envy, can lead to what researchers refer to as an 'envy spiral'. This occurs when passive following exacerbates feelings of envy, decreasing a person's satisfaction with their own life.

"Access to copious positive news and the profiles of seemingly successful 'friends' fosters social comparison that can readily provoke envy," explains Hanna Krasnova of the Institute of Information Systems at Humboldt University. "By and large, online social networks allow users unprecedented access to information on relevant others - insights that would be much more difficult to obtain offline."

A recent Huffington Post blog entry by Christine Organ reveals how taking a break from technology changed her life.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: extramural, face-to-face, Facebook, in-person, Massey University, social media, student, technology

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