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The study will attempt to determine what the relationships are of certain technological advances, i.e., Home Entertainment Systems (HES), Personal Computers / Laptops (PCs), Cellular Phones (CELL) and lastly Personal Digital Assistants / Palmtops / Palm Pilots (PDAs) with Attachment Style. There are many other technologies available to the human being with which to keep himself entertained during his/her recreational time, but by selecting what I believe to be the most common and all pervasive ‘recreational technologies’ of our present day and age, I will simply try to get as accurate an idea of how these technologies may be related to our social relationships. Thus I have not made an attempt to be exhaustive in terms of identifying and analyzing all possible available technologies that may be used for recreational purposes or the literature associated with them.
As will be seen from the following literature study, much is written about the psychological effects of technology such as how violence on television increases aggressive behaviour in children or how exposure to computer technologies can provoke and increase anxiety levels. However there is virtually no literature that deals directly with the relationship between technology and attachment styles. Ample has been written about Attachment Theory and Attachment Styles and an attempt will be made to be as inclusive and exhaustive as possible on the domain of attachment.Thus all available and relevant literature regarding the four types of technology will be discussed and elaborated upon in order that the reader may get a broad and hopefully accurate overview of what has been done in terms of social research on technology, what the technologies consist of and what their possible relationships have been or will be on the individual.


What is the relationship between technology and humans?

What is the effect of technology, especially on our social and recreational lives? Many will proclaim that technology has enhanced our social and recreational lives, generally changing our lives for the better, but is this the case? Mobile phone technology has enhanced our ability to communicate with friends and family on weekends and holidays, but it could likewise be damaging our relationships in some way with the very people we are trying to communicate with. The way we conduct our social interactions may pre-dispose us to communicate and to relate to others, either directly or via technology. Perhaps the manner in which you relate to others influences what technology you use, how much you use it and for what you use it.
Of major concern to Anita Borg, a technology scientist at Palo Alto in the US, is the ever increasing ‘technology gap’ between those who have been exposed to technology, can use technology and make decisions regarding technology, and those minorities groups such as women who are largely excluded from the world of technology (Edwards, 2000).
This tendency can be seen in most developing and developed countries simply by looking at whom the technology marketers of the world focus on most. Technology is directed mainly at the young and male consumer. This is especially pervasive in the information technology sector as most
forms of entertainment such as computer games are designed to attract the attention of male gamers. Very, very few cater for the interest of the female entertainment seeker. Even though marketers and game designers have attempted to cater for the female market, they still fall terribly short of the mark. Even though research has shown that the majority of computer gamers are male and over the age of 30 (Many, 2004), most are targeted at the younger market. It is just that the older individual has the spending power to buy more of it as apposed to the teenager who has to rely on the pocket of his or her parent.
In terms of cellular recreation and the likes of ring tones, wallpapers and screensavers, more ‘progress’ in terms of catering for females is evident, yet still falls far short from being equal with what is available for males. Note that in South Africa it is largely the poor, unemployed and generally black population groups that are falling behind the ever growing ‘technology gap’. Even though some significant steps have been taken in order to address this problem in South Africa and abroad, research conducted for example, on computer phobia via reviews and meta-analyses has found that despite the interventions introduced in order to reduce computer phobia in the tertiary student population in general, no significant change has been detected over the last few years (Anthony, Clarke & Anderson, 2000). Likewise, technology has enabled humans to free up additional time, specifically and most importantly, decreasing the time needed to do manual labour type tasks in order to sustain him physically. This has enabled humans to allocate much more time to thinking, resulting in the development of more complex technologies, skills, ways of life and ideas. Gramm (1987) states the following, “In pre-industrial, low-consumption societies, the bulk of human labour is manual; that with the division of labour the shift is towards an increased proportion of skilled and intellectual work that embodies elements of direct satisfaction and shades imperceptibly into leisure” (p.171). As Gramm (1987) states, another byproduct of technology, has been the supposed increase in leisure time.
The argument is that, because humans use technology, they are able to do more work in less time, essentially freeing up additional time in which they can do other things, such as relax and spend time with significant other individuals in their lives (Mally, 1997). All fair and well. But what about the other side of the coin? Technology may give us additional time with which to do whatever we want, such as spend time with friends and family, but it may also in a sense take it away from us by encouraging us to use technology even more during our additional free time (Machrone, 2003; Raeburn et al., 1999). Technology generally makes tasks more complex rather than simpler, which robs valuable time from employers as well as employees. Not to mention the time and money spent on training in an attempt to educate users on how to use technology more efficiently. “A backlash is building against America’s work epidemic. More employees are resisting companies’ demands for longer hours on the job, the 24/7 pace of business that means operations never cease, and the surrender of leisure time to work because of new technology such as cell phones and e-mail” (USA Today. December 17, 2003).
In fact, information technology has created a multi-billion dollar global industry that gives work to millions of individuals and very often creates highly stressed employees that work around the clock.
Mullan (1997) states in his book, “Consuming Television” that, “Virtually everyone in the so-called developed world watches a box in the corner, with the British, for example, totalling over 50 billion hours of television viewing a year. If a typical viewer’s total viewing during the year were laid end to end, it would fill two months for 24 hours each day” (p.5). Simply put, two months in a year is a lot of time that could have been used doing something else such as spending precious time with loved ones or engaging in a leisure activity that is both more sociable and more physically active. Following on from this, time spent on technology, will be one of the important factors that will be investigated within this study.
What is also prevalent in the literature is that technology has the ability, either directly or indirectly to elicit emotional responses from its user. As Taylor and Mullan (1986) exclaim: Sometimes it is watched with great intensity and emotional involvement (quite enough to produce tears of sorrow or tears of joy): at other moments, with an irreverent concern (in which actors and plot readily become more laughing matters). In both cases it is likely to be a subject for conversation and comment among those present either during or after the specific programme. And whatever may have been the case in the past, nowadays, with at least four channels available and a pre-recorded film for hire a few hundred yards down the road, choice is likely to be continually exercised…
Please note that the above extract was from 1986. Today we have 50 or more channels to choose from and High Definition Interactive Television is just around the corner. Although ‘television conversation’ may often be about the comings and goings of fictional characters or ‘personalities’, they provide ways of talking about a great many other features of the world: sex, sin, retribution and death.
Emotions help us to evaluate things such as objects, situations, ideas, people and places. Thus emotions to a large extent make up our attitudes towards various objects, situations, people, ideas or places. Attitudes can be viewed as evaluations of various objects, situations or ideas (Judd et al., 1991). Thus simply put, an attitude towards an object, idea or situation helps you to define and determine very quickly whether you like or dislike the object, idea or situation.
According to Baron and Byrne (1994), attitudes are formed in primarily two ways, namely by learning, which is largely but not exclusively an intellectual activity by which positive or negative associations are made with the object at hand in relation to other humans, and also by direct experience by which the object at hand is experienced in a negative or positive way. The experience is intellectual in nature but also contains a strong emotional component. Thus attitudes are made up primarily of emotional and intellectual evaluations in relation to an ‘object’ which is stored in the memory and retrieved in the actual or imagined presence of the ‘object’.
Consequently, attitudes towards recreational technology use will be a second factor to be investigated. The literature shows that, if you have a positive attitude towards an object or idea, you will use it, spend more time on and with it and be more likely to support it. Therefore I may determine, for example, whether there is a relationship between positive attitudes in general towards the Internet and time spent using the Internet. If you are positive towards the Internet you will more likely use the Internet and probably use it more than someone who has a negative attitude towards the Internet. “Attitudes and behavior, it appears are often closely linked. In general, though, attitudes do predict many forms of social behavior across a wide range of contexts” (Baron & Byrne, 1994, p.137).
Thus the attitudes towards the four recreational technology types under investigation, whether positive or negative will be investigated in order to attempt to further quantify the likelihood that an individual will use technology.
For the purposes of the study it will be assumed (in line with current theory by Baron and Byrne (1994)) that a positive attitude towards a certain technology type in general, will incline an individual to use that specific technology more than an individual who has a generally negative attitude towards a specific technology.
So clearly psychological variables do influence technology use and technology can have a significant impact on the psychological frame of mind of an individual. A third important factor that will be investigated within this study is whether socio-economic status has an effect on technology use. I would propose that if you earn more money, then you have the potential to expose yourself and your immediate others to more technology purely by being able to afford more of it (Jones, 2004; Raeburn et al., 1999). Likewise, if you are interested in utilizing technology, then I would propose that you would invest more in it in terms of money and functionality. By increased functionality I mean that you will purchase a cell phone, personal computer, home entertainment system or personal digital assistant that has more features, can do more and costs more than the average product (Machrone, 2001). Granovetter (1985) argues that technology has the ability to enhance relationships due to increased and speedier contact and social transaction.
However, he reports that the advantages of technology can only be realized once a relationship has already been established.
He does not state whether it is possible to establish a relationship via technology such as meeting people in chat rooms as the technology to do this via information technology was not available yet.
The development of the Internet and additional technologies such as webcams have made phenomena such as chat rooms, Internet-based electronic dating services and match making services possible. Therefore it is now possible to actually create relationships through the use of some recreational technologies. As Parks and Floyd (1996) and Zaczek (2004) have stated, information technology, in the form of Internet usage for example can facilitate the building of social relationships by virtually and potentially putting you in contact with everyone and anyone on the planet. Granovetter (1985), however, does note that technology can be used to enhance relationships and communication, or alternatively to replace it by isolating individuals, departments, organisations and societies from one another.
In conclusion, it is plain to see from this literature review that the relationship between technology use and human relationships is a complex one. I believe that this is all the more reason why extensive research should be conducted on the effects of technology on our daily lives, so that we can clearly identify where the benefits of technology lie and where technology has become detrimental to our daily physical, social and spiritual lives. As technological developments continue to yield different forms of technology, as well as make technology more and more pervasive in societies, I believe it will be a continuous endeavour if not a responsibility for social scientists to explore and monitor the effects and relationships of technology on everyday human life.
Clearly, being the creators of technology, we influence the direction in which it develops and the way in which it is used. However I believe we need to be very cautious in terms of what it is doing to us as the following quote by Winston Churchill in 1943 (The Churchill Centre) illustrates:
“We shape our buildings and afterwards, our buildings shape us” (Churchill, W., n.d.). I believe that the same can be said for technology.
Now social attachment, attachment theory and attachment styles will be discussed, as well as its possible implications when put into the context of recreational technology use.

 Information technology

According to Kasschau, Lachman and Laughery (1982), information technology is all about computers and communication. It would be very difficult to argue that the advent of computer technology was not in essence the onset of the information age.
Early computers were originally developed out of work related to the predictions of the trajectory of projectiles during World War II. Even the Internet was initially developed for the US defense forces as a means to ensure communication redundancy in the event that a hostile attack may be made on its communication infrastructure (Croarken, 2002). As computers advanced and became smaller and more accessible and their uses increased, so did their popularity amongst scientists and eventually every sector of modern day life.
Whether you are a systems programmer for NASA, a cashier at a corner café or a toddler in a nursery school, chances are you will be spending some of your time, if not most of it in front of the display screen of a computer. Virtually anything today can be mediated by a common desktop computer, provided that the necessary attachments (if needed) are in place. If there are a handful of activities that cannot be done or attempted with a computer, like thinking intelligently as a human does, procreating as a human does and worshipping a superior being as a human can, then you can be assured that there is probably at least one person working on making that a reality, however futile and irrelevant the endeavor may seem to some. Perhaps this has prompted the relatively recent and rapid increase in the interest of information technology ethics. The global proliferation of computer technology has led to the questioning of the enormous potential for good or evil that these technological devices could mean.
Clearly there are obvious positive as well as negative aspects of computer usage such as having access to global information at the click of a button, or enhancing the effectiveness of weapons in order to wage more effective war. However, it is the more subtle potential effects that draw social
scientists and others to question the effects of these creations. Using a computer and the Internet at home can lead to increased knowledge and skills as well as confidence (Lundmark, Kiesler, Kraut,
Scherlis & Mukhopadhyay, 1998).
On the other hand when individuals use information technologies for playing computer games or retrieving information, they use up time and spend more time alone (Vitalari, Venkatesh & Gronhaug, 1985).
Other research suggests that recreational computing at home appears to be displacing another radical form of information technology use, namely watching television. (Kraut, Mukhopadhyay, Szczypula, Kiesler & Scherlis, 1998). If you consider that even cellular phones are beginning to reach the functional and processing capabilities of multiprocessor personal computers, and you can carry it with you wherever you go, the effect it could have on the time spent using information technology out of the office and out of the home is staggering.
Clearly the complex nature of information technologies available today and the potential effects on social and recreational life that the literature and research suggest, warrants an investigation. It is for these reasons that current day voluntary information technology use will be scrutinized in this research paper.

What is ‘recreational technology’?

As will be seen from the following four subheadings, ‘recreational technology’ will be divided into four specific categories. In general, ‘recreational technology’ can be seen as any type of technological advancement, usually electronic in nature that is used extensively for recreational purposes.
For the purposes of this study, three main technology types, commonly used for recreation were selected, namely Home Entertainment Systems, Personal Computer Systems (with Personal Digital Assistants as a subcategory) and Cellular phones. Relevant literature regarding the four ‘recreational technologies’ will be expounded and clarified where necessary in order to give a broad overview of where each has come from and what the latest areas of concern are.



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