According to a survey of 35,000 people around the world, access to communication technology was a main factor in increasing happiness.
We all need a few basic things in our life in order to be happy: access to clean water and food, shelter, health care, and relationships with friends and family. But once the necessities are met, what do people most desire?
Access to communication devices, according to a new study of 35,000 people around the world by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT.
Most people in the study gave similar answers, but the potential happiness increase that technology could bring about was particularly significant in women and in people with low incomes or levels of education—even in developing countries.
While farmers in rural Africa aren’t likely to pick up the latest shiny toys from Apple, even a simple cell phone can serve as a valuable happiness-increasing tool, allowing the expansion and maintenance of social networks beyond the community.
“Whether young or old, we’re all social beings, we all have a need for the things IT access facilitates,” researcher Paul Flatters told BBC News.
In rural communities, access to communication technology such as cell phones and computers is limited, but expanding, thanks to groups like One Laptop Per Child, which supplies children in developing countries with basic laptops that will allow them to research school projects and connect with others all over the world. Other groups, like the UK’s Computer Aid, are helping rural villagers get wired with the help of portable cyber cafes that allow locals to log online to send emails and perform work-related research.
And back at home, it seems from the results that slick tech gadgets like the iPhone really can increase your happiness—provided you use it to talk with and send messages, photos, and videos to friends and family to help strengthen your social networks, rather than simply playing Angry Birds.