University study shows UK still prefers face-to-face communication

A study has been conducted by the University of Cambridge that suggests one in three people feel overwhelmed by communications technology.

The study, commissioned by BT to promote the BT Balanced Communications Diet, looked into the impact of texting, email and social networking on the individual and family life; it found that although the majority saw comms technology as having an overall positive effect, for some the wave of innovation in this area seemed to be getting a bit much.

"A survey conducted as part of the study revealed that feeling overwhelmed by communications technology is similar for adults and children, with 38% of 10-18 year olds claiming to feel this way and 25-34 year olds not far behind, with 34% of that age group feeling overwhelmed.

"Furthermore, the survey of 1,269 people and in-depth interviews with families in the UK revealed that those people who have frequently felt overwhelmed are also more likely to feel less satisfied with their life as a whole."

This feeling of being overwhelmed, perhaps, stems not so much from its use - as the majority of people will no doubt manage to find a balance between their real and online worlds - but from the weight of new technology and gadgets being marketed. Often it seems that no sooner have you figured out how to use a swanky new gadget, we're then being lured into buying another, even swankier, one.

However, perhaps the most interesting statistic came through information stating that 64 per cent of children and 65 per cent of adults in the UK still prefer to communicate face-to-face. 

Although this could be seen as "dispelling the myth that they [children] only communicate via technology or are losing the desire and ability to participate in in-person interactions", it still hints of the possibility that 35 per cent of the survey preferred some other method of communication other than face-to-face.

However, we still need to be cautious as although it is possible to infer that 35 per cent do not like face-to-face communication, it's important to take into account variables such as inherent shyness, or specific conditions, like aspergers. There's also the fact that there are many alternatives, so it may not mean that 35 per cent do not like face-to-face communication, but that people prefer many different types of communication.

The study remains food for thought, as it's one thing using communication technology because it's convenient and quite another using it because we are uncomfortable with the alternative.



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