The Pew Research Center on Internet and Technology came out with a report recently that offers an opinion about the future of technology and social well-being that’s different from the doom-saying we commonly hear.
Pew, along with Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, asked tech experts, scholars, and health specialists this question:
Over the next decade, how will changes in digital life impact people’s overall well-being physically and mentally?
It was an informal survey, so the results can’t be considered scientific. Still, of the 1,150 experts who responded, almost half predicted that people’s mental and physical well-being will be more helped than harmed by digital life in the next 10 years. About one-third said the opposite—that more harm than good will come of online life. About one-fifth said they didn’t think much change would happen.
Among the “plurality” (that means not a majority, which is more than half, but the biggest group) that thought more good than harm would come of online life, here were some of their reasons:
- Connection: Online life connects people to people, knowledge, education, and entertainment anywhere on the planet, at any time, and in affordable ways.
- Commerce, government, and society: Online life revolutionizes civic, business, consumer, and personal logistics, opening up a world of opportunity and options.
- Intelligence: Online life is essential to tapping into health, safety, and science resources, tools, and services in real time.
This is good news in an environment filled with doom and gloom about how the internet will change our mental health for the worse.
What about you—which group do you fall into? Try to imagine a world without the internet—what does it look like? Would you be more happy, or less? How might you go about using the internet so it does foster the benefits the experts mention?