Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The threat of Hybrids increases as people use more gadgets

In my 2008 novel, Hybrids, I envisaged a virus called Creep, that causes teenagers to merge with frequently used technology like mobile phones, computers and game machines.

The threat of this occurring in reality is increasing as more and more homes are filling with gadgets and households become dependent on technology.

The average household has filled up with consumer gadgetry such as flat screen televisions, tablets, iPods and smartphones in the last decade, as new and cheaper technology plus high-speed internet access has made affordable many items that were once seen as luxuries.

I'm just as guilty as anyone else of using gadgets; I even used software, called Grammarly, to check this post for spelling and punctuation.

However, the rise of technology has changed habits, meaning many families spend less time together, something else warned about near the beginning of Hybrids.

According to a leading UK auction website, a family household could easily have over a dozen electronic devices, including multiple versions of the same item for each family member, which would have been unaffordable just a few years back.

According to figures from various UK authorities, the proportion of British households with the following technologies is:

• Mobile phone: 94%

• Flat screen TV: 65%

• Digital TV recorder: 49%

• Broadband router: 76%

• Laptop computer: 66%

• Tablet computer: 22%

• Digital radio: 42%.

Statistics from Emarketer show that whereas 2.8% of British households had tablet devices in 2010, the number is now 22%, and expected to reach a third of homes within two years.

The rise of new technology has changed family habits.

While over a third of televisions sold in the UK in 2012 were super-large sized flat screens according to Ofcom, the emergence of digital recorders and catch-up services mean that households now spend less time watching TV together.

According to figures by TV Licensing, British households will soon have an average of three rooms with televisions, meaning that teenagers are now more likely to watch TV in their bedrooms than with the rest of their families.

Technology is changing the family unit. There are fewer face-to-face conversations now as families converse via text message, and there is a new social ‘crime’ of using a mobile phone at the dinner table.

TV viewing is discussed over social media as viewers 'second screen' while watching, instead of talking to those people who are in the same room as them.

We have sacrificed family life to keep up with technology. The big question is: how will families adapt to it?