Tech Toys Draw Cheers, Tears

Many Americans have love/hate relationships with their technology, as research indicates that few use their tech toys to their full functionality and some gadgets are more valued than others. A significant portion of survey participants ranked communication tools as being more important than personal items, while some recipients of high-tech gadgets are too intimidated to even take them out of the box in a timely manner.

According to a Click IQ survey by retailer Best Buy of more than 600 18 to 64-year olds during December 2003, 61 percent indicated that they don’t use their new tech toys to their fullest potential, and 61 percent also said that they don’t easily adapt to technology.

One quarter of respondents indicated that desktop computers required the most technological assistance, while laptops were found to require less professional maintenance. Digital cameras, which have evolved considerably since the simple point-and-shoot film models, ranked second.

Which of the following technology
products do you find yourself
needing the most technological help?
Desktop Computer 25%
Digital Camera 11%
Stereo Equipment 8%
Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) 6%
DVD Player 6%
Laptop Computer 5%
Cellular Phone 5%
Digital Camcorder 5%
Gaming System 5%
Source: Best Buy/Click IQ

While some wrestled with their electronics, others admitted their tortured dependency on technological devices. The 2004 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index survey, conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres Intersearch of more than 1,500 adults and teens during November 2003, found that the majority chose their cell phones as the invention they hate the most but can’t live without – edging out another interruptive device, the alarm clock.

Inventions We Hate But
Can’t Live Without
Cell Phone 30%
Alarm Clock 25%
Television 23%
Shaving Razors 14%
Other 8%
Source: Lemelson-MIT Program

Other examples the survey found of indispensable technology were email and voicemail, with the majority of participants indicating that the communication applications made their lives simpler.

Inventions That Simplify Life
Demographic E-mail Voicemail
Adult males 61% 60%
Adult Females 57% 56%
Teen Males 77% 69%
Teen Females 85% 73%
Base: 1,023 adults and 503 teens
Source: Lemelson-MIT Program

Technological reliance was barely evident in the findings from the 2003 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index when participants were asked to select the invention they could not live without from among five choices – toothbrush, automobile, personal computer, cell phone and microwave.

The toothbrush received the top ranking from 34 percent of teens and 42 percent of adults, followed by the automobile (31 percent of teens and 37 percent of adults). The personal computer ranked a distant third (16 percent of teens and 6 percent of adults); the cell phone was fourth (10 percent of teens and 6 percent of adults); and the microwave was last (7 percent of teens and 6 percent of adults).

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