8:37am

Tue August 30, 2011
Tech

New poll shows your mixed emotions about technology

According to a new Siena Research Institute survey, nearly all New Yorkers use cell phones and computers daily. A majority use MP3 players and GPS systems, and a growing number are buying e-book readers and tablets.

All age groups demonstrate an eagerness to embrace new technologies, says Don Levy, directory of Siena College Research Institute.

“What is quite clear is that new technologies, most especially cell phone and smart phones and computers are here to stay and have really very quickly wound themselves into the everyday fabric of life for virtually all New Yorkers,” he says.

The poll also shows state residents are increasingly dependent on technology - and with that, increasingly wary of the ubiquity of gadgets in everyday life.

“New Yorkers have mixed feelings about new technologies,” says Levy. “We are definitely in a love it, and if not hate - hate it might be too strong - but ‘love it’ and ‘concerned about it’ relationship with new technologies.”

The poll indicates technology use is high among every age group.  Correspondingly, each demographic expresses reservations about the dual nature of relying so heavily on equipment that was absent less than a generation ago.

“On the positive side very high percentages, almost everyone says, ‘Yes, it puts information at my fingertips’. Everybody has seen the effect that new technologies have had in promoting democracy, the Arab Spring, for example,” Levy says. “However, when asked if it’s made your [communications] better or worse, about half of New Yorkers say it’s for the worse. We asked if they spend too much time with machines or pushing buttons: 90 percent of people feel that’s the case.”

In the poll, 40 percent of respondents said new technologies are creating more problems than they solve. And 51 percent say communication between people has worsened since cell phones became common in the past decade.

Texting while driving, “sexting,” Internet bullying, and identity theft are among the concerns that New Yorkers have about technology. Levy says many also consider some forms of public technology use as annoying. Yet nearly three-fourths of New Yorkers say cell phones and computers have improved their lives. 

This is the first time a Siena poll has asked about technology use. The data will now be collected every year according to Levy since personal electronic devices are clearly here to stay, and their use is likely to grow over the next decade.

A sizable majority of survey respondents expect advancements in technologies will “solve many of mankind’s most enduring problems.”

By the numbers

  • More than 92 percent of state residents use cell phones regularly
  • 63 percent own a flat screen television,
  • 58 percent use an mp3 player, such as an iPod