Modern technology has become both a uniting and a dividing force in Irish homes, it has emerged.
Households across Ireland are going through a significant digital transformation, with increased use of smart phones, tablets, and electronic readers.
However, while eight out of 10 people believe that technology has had a positive impact in the home, 67% believe it causes arguments.
While 17% of people think technology is a barrier to communication, 27% believe it helps them keep in touch.
Just under a quarter believe it helps people to communicate, and 17% believe it brings family and friends together.
According to the first Eircom Household Sentiment Survey technology is increasing encroaching on home life.
More than half of those taking part in the research said families now spend more time on computers, smart phones and other technical devices when they are together.
New rules of engagement are becoming an area of contention in homes, as smart phone users in particular push the boundaries of phone etiquette.
And Irish men and women are not always in agreement about the rights and wrongs of texting a colleague after work or at weekends. Nearly half — 46% — of men believe it is acceptable, compared to 36% of women.
Just over a third of smart phone owners believe they act the same online as they do offline.
On the plus side, mobile phones help people to feel safe at home: 46% claim to sleep better with a mobile phone next to their bed. More than half of women — 51% — say their feel safer with a mobile next to them at night, compared to 40% of men.
Clinical psychologist David Coleman who worked with Eircom on the survey, said it showed that families were trying to work out how to make communications technology fit with their lifestyles and family habits.
“One thing that struck me very forcibly is that while many households and families aspire to bonding together in a more traditional fashion, around a board game, for example, the survey shows that aspiration doesn’t match today’s reality,” he said.
“In fact, the most common scenario is the family all together but interacting with separate pieces of technology.
“While undoubtedly people being incessantly on their phone or laptop causes arguments in some cases, or work can encroach more on home life, most people feel happier that modern technology helps them keep in touch with their friends and family and helps also make them feel safer, such as having a mobile to contact teenage children or by the bed at night.”
Just over 1,000 people across Ireland took place in the survey, conducted on behalf of Eircom by MCCP, the planning agency, with field work carried out by Amarach at the end of July.
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