Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are less enthusiastic about technology than all other generations. Getty Images
In the midst of America’s mental health crisis, emerging technologies have now come to market worryingly. generative ai, pundits claimAccording to the most pessimistic voices, this will inevitably lead to more loneliness, mass unemployment and even the end of humanity. Focus on long-standing concerns on social media hazards, And it becomes difficult to escape from the doom and gloom. even the white house on the verge,
We are also seeing familiar stereotypes re-emerging: older generations are out of touch with technology and nervous about it, while younger generations are naive about both its potential risks and their dependence on it.
It turns out, however, that Americans across generations have a lot in common when it comes to technological hopes and fears. As a nation, we are both enthralled and excited by the wave of change. Like Janus, the Roman god of new beginnings, we are looking forward and backward at the same time. We yearn for a simpler past, eagerly anticipating the next great innovation. And, while Americans of all ages are significantly united on these issues, the subtle inter-generational differences highlighted by a recent Harris Poll/Human Flourishing Lab survey about Americans’ views toward technology are enlightening.
Americans of all ages have a curious, open-minded, and trusting attitude toward new technologies. Most respondents (78% overall) are interested in learning how new technologies such as AI, robotics and virtual reality work. An equal number of people are interested in trying such a new technology.
Perhaps not surprisingly, young Americans tend to be the most enthusiastic. Nearly 88% of Gen Zers and 89% of Millennials expressed interest in using new technologies, while stronger but still smaller numbers of Gen Zers (78%) and Baby Boomers (69%) agreed. Additionally, more than 80% of people from each generation agree that keeping an open mind about new technologies is important. And majorities in every generation show that they trust companies that create new technologies and are doing so to improve society.
Gen Zers are surprisingly nostalgic
Even as we race toward a changing, hyperconnected future, most Americans yearn for a quieter and more private past. Two-thirds (67%) said they wish they could go back in time when everyone was “plugged in”. While every age group shares this desire, it still breaks generational stereotypes, with millennials (74%) and Gen Xers (73%) being more depressed than those at the end of the generational spectrum – Gen Zers ( 60%) and Baby Boomers (61%). It may be that those who remember that past best and least are the ones least excited about it.
This nostalgia for the past is more than a sign of resistance to progress. Nostalgia really helps people adapt to change and energizes them for the future, research shows, It helps people deal with new situations and reminds them of their origins and values. Nostalgic feelings for a past in which humans spent less time in front of screens and more time physically with each other can help people figure out how to improve technological development and use by allowing humans to live longer. May prosperity increase and avoid the pitfalls we fear.
And yes, Americans’ abundant techno-optimism is tempered by concerns over the scope and speed of the changes we are witnessing.
A narrow majority (52%) of Americans claim that new technologies are more likely to drive people apart than bring them together. Specifically, younger generations are the most likely to share this belief, with 58% of Gen Z and millennials expressing it, compared to 48% of Gen X and 47% of Boomers. Perhaps younger Americans more clearly understand the effects of separation from first-hand experience, or perhaps older people remember Previous technology-driven moral panic About television rotting children’s brains and violent video games turning them gun-crazy.
This was not the only instance where young Americans proved to be more techno-sceptical than their elders. Nearly half of Americans (51%) say they feel overwhelmed trying to keep up with technology, but millennials (57%) are the only generation where a majority agrees. Gen Z was just as likely to be overburdened as older generations.
Americans of all ages (85% overall) are also concerned that young people are too dependent on technology. And while older generations are most likely to hold this view (87% of Boomers and 89% of Gen Xers), large numbers of Millennials (82%) and Gen Zers (80%) agree. Similarly, 81% of Americans are concerned about the impact of social media on the mental health of youth. Again, all generations share this concern.
Although Americans appreciate technological invention and innovation, they are mindful of the ways in which it can undermine human agency and psychological well-being. But the best way to approach technology is largely how we are: with interest, optimism, skepticism, and a healthy dose of nostalgia.
Will Johnson serves as CEO of The Harris Poll. Clay Routledge is vice president of research and director of human flourishing at the Archbridge Institute.