The Great Technology Debate: Where Do You Stand?

At the end of a long day, sometimes all you want to do is go home, flip on your entertainment medium of choice and completely detach from anything work-related. With one of my recent projects, though, it wasn’t so easy. As part of Communispace’s upcoming research study, Tech Fast Forward, conducted in partnership with Ogilvy Chicago, I spent time last year hearing from parents in our communities about whether technology is helping or hurting their lives and families. And once I started paying attention, I suddenly found I couldn’t escape this topic…

A couple of months ago I heard an installment of NPR’s On The Media which presented persuasive evidence both for and against technology. The Wall Street Journal similarly rode the fence with a column titled, “Is Technology Good or Bad? Yes“.  Books like Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows argue for the detrimental effects of technology, while the premise of Steven Jackson’s Everything Bad is Good for You is self-evident. And these are just a few examples of an ongoing debate that seems to echo with every new text, tweet and tag.

The fact that technology is both deified and vilified intrigued us from the beginning. There is no denying that technology is transforming our world at light speed—but is this change for better or worse? Does the future look bleak or bright? Are we are losing the ability to communicate and form meaningful relationships; to engage in deep and meditative thought; to be truly creative and original; to share time and values with our family; and to feel safe and secure?

These are the timely debates we hope to illuminate in our study. We decided to zero in on households with young children to serve as a leading indicator of what the future holds, given that they are raising the next generation of consumers, parents and leaders.  We talked to hundreds of families—across the technology adoption spectrum—from around the U.S. to get a sense of the role technology plays in their lives and how they feel about the changes it has wrought. In particular, we wanted to understand how parents and children who are embracing technology might differ from their less tech-savvy counterparts, and how what we call “Tech Fast Forward” families might be blazing new trails for the rest of us. And we found some surprising trends that have clear implications for brands and marketers looking to thrive in the 21st century.

Curious? The report will be coming out next month, but in the meantime, we invite all of you to join in the debate. Where do you stand on these questions?  How has technology enhanced, degraded or just fundamentally changed your life and your interactions with those around you? How will it continue to transform us in the future?

Communispace and Oglivy will be presenting this study at the FEI Boston conference on May 16th and at a webinar in early June. The whitepaper will also be available for download on our website.

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