imec.digimeter 2018: Love-hate relationship with technology

(20-02-2019) We struggle with the impact of technology in our lives. This quest for a balanced digital life also determines our attitudes towards new technology.

Imec.digimeter monitors the adoption and usage of media and ICT in Flanders since 2009, and sheds a light on the attitudes towards digital innovations. Throughout the years, we notice an increased struggle with a love-hate relationship with technology. The majority of the Flemish population is interested in digital media, and believes that advances in technology have influenced our living standards in a positive way. Yet, Flemings tend not to be blind for the downside of digital innovations. Dependency on both smartphone and social media remains a point of concern (cf. the digibesitas issues that imec.digimeter uncovered since 2015). Added to that, several paradoxes seem to emerge. When it comes to news for instance, Flemings are convinced that the Internet has made us better informed citizens, yet they do worry about the possible impact of fake news on society. Online privacy is another point of conflict: although sharing personal data to obtain a benefit or optimal service is a common practice, there is a clear frustration about the lack of transparency on what companies exactly do with that data.

The variations in how people tend to deal with the positive and negative effects of digital media and technology resulted in five profiles, each reflecting a relation status with technology. Ranging from the Passionate Lover (who is unconditionally in love with technology, and does not bother with the negative aspects that could come with it) to the Happy Single (who is so averse to technology that he or she avoids being involved in a steady relationship with technology). The profiles the most indecisive about their relation with technology are the Close Friend (who considers himself as a loyal friend to technology, but is somewhat concerned about the negative traits) and It’s Complicated (who does believe in the positive impact of technology on our lives, but is so affected by the risks and troubles that emerge from it that he or she has cooled down the relation status with technology). The final profile, the Distant Acquaintance, is very indifferent towards technology: he or she is not enthusiastic about the positive influence of digital media, but nor does he or she worry about the downsides of it.

Those relation statuses not only define the ways people perceive and interact with the technology of today, but also the position they take towards the technology of tomorrow. The more confident one is about the positive outcomes of technology today, the more one is interested in exploring the future technologies. Organizations investing in new interfaces and technologies should consider and address these sensitivities.

The full report, seperate chapters and infographics can be downloaded here (available in both Dutch and English).
imec digimeter 2019