Study shows Information Technology makes people happy

What makes people happy? It may come in a lot of ways. Promotion, victory in sports, success in projects, a kiss, a brand new car, being with love ones, watch a movie or by simply having a new gadget like an iPad, mobile phone, computer or more. These are just some of the reasons that makes someone happy and smile. But is there a scientific basis on all of these?

A new global study from BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT called ‘The Information Dividend: Can IT make you happier? shows that access to information technology has a ‘statistically significant, positive impact on life satisfaction’.

The report is based on an analysis of the World Values Survey, and contains responses from 35,000+ people globally. The findings suggest there may well be an ‘information dividend’ – a personal and social benefit which comes from access to information and IT.

The study showed that information technology had a positive impact on life satisfaction even when controlling for income and other factors known to be important in determining well-being. “Put simply, people with IT access are more satisfied with life even when taking account of income,” said social scientist Michael Willmott, the study’s author.

The people who benefited most from this appeared to be women, those on low incomes, and those with few qualifications. The highest benefit went to women in undeveloped countries, which clearly show a combination of the above three. Those who are socially constrained seem to benefit most. The report also showed that there was no increase or decrease on the basis of age, which is an interesting discovery since IT is often more geared towards younger people.

The interest in ‘well being’ or life satisfaction has become a hot topic in recent years as academics, policy makers and politicians have sought ways to define happiness and redefine the role of Government in addressing the fact that ‘happiness’ appears to flat-line once a society reaches a certain economic level.

The implications for this study, therefore, could be far reaching and intriguing:

– IT as a means to better social policy outcomes
– Re-emphasises the need for broadband roll-out to close the digital divide
– A clearer idea of where digital inclusion/exclusion is most beneficial/harmful

‘The relationship between IT and happiness has not been well researched which is why the Institute commissioned this study. If we can enhance the understanding of the relationships in a way that leads to new and improved thinking, strategies or solutions then we will have helped a little,’ concluded Elizabeth Sparrow.

I would tend to agree to this study simply because the reasons provided gives people a sense of satisfaction, achievement, and fullfillment. Its human natiure to see that their efforts are rewarded more so reward for no efforts at all.

Like what they always say, there is always an exception to the rule – show this study to those who participated in the recently held national election and you will get different answers. For the winners its a resounding ‘Yes”, indeed technology made them happy. But to those who didn’t make it, technology is to blame for their defeat.

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