Business News

Household Sentiment Survey reveals how technology is impacting our society

By Business & Finance
24 March 2014
eircom household survey

Irish people want flexibility and engagement from the latest technology, according to the latest eircom Household Sentiment Survey (eHSS), released today.

The in-depth, bi-annual nationwide household survey of 1,000 Irish people reveals that technology is perceived to help relationships, enable a sociable commuting experience and contribute to more harmonious homes nationwide.

The latest eHSS findings also show that the temptation to overshare online – especially from parents – can frustrate others. Social media continues to change at a rapid pace, with new sites encroaching on the more established social media channels. The findings also indicate that children have an ever-increasing influence on their parents’ technological purchasing behavior for the family as a whole – with children as young as ten often dictating what their parents buy.

The surge in ‘on the go device’ use continues

The findings of the latest eHSS survey show that the popularity of internet enabled devices has increased significantly, with 86% of adults now owning a device that can be used on the go. In tandem, the average number of online devices in the home has increased from three in February 2013  to four in February 2014, with the younger generation (16-24 year olds) having access to an average of six potential online devices in the household.

This growth is largely due to the surge in the tablet market – six months ago only 25% of Irish people owned a tablet while the latest survey shows 40% (nearly 1.4 million people) now own a tablet (a 60% increase in tablet access). In addition, 16% of those who don’t own a tablet plan to acquire one this year.

Due to our ever-increasing love of (and obsession with) the latest technological devices, it is no surprise that over two million people in Ireland are now using smartphones –15%  grown since the eHSS in February last year.

Pester power

The eHSS report also highlights children as young as 10 years old are now influencing technology decisions in the home, while a third of adults surveyed actually believe that this pressure starts even earlier – between the ages of 0-9 years. Children between the ages of five and 17 are informing parents about a range of technological purchases – from the brand and type of mobile phones their parents should buy for themselves (42%) to the TV service provider (56%) and the type of broadband they should have in the home (51%).  The survey concludes  that the younger generations are the nation’s early adopters when it comes to technology – and far more informed than their parents, with 83% of parents agreeing that their children know more about technology than they do; rising to 92% amongst parents of  children aged between 13 and 17.

The sociable commuter

In this evolving digital age, the eircom findings reveal that commuting to and from work has now actually become more sociable – due to conversing via social media sites – moving away from solitary activities such as reading the newspaper or book, which is no surprise given the increased popularity of on the go devices.  3 in 5 commuters (63%) now uses digital devices when commuting, this rises to 93% amongst students.

The benefits cited of being able to go online while traveling included being able to keep up to date with news (60%), using the time to work or study (29%) and over half of commuters say that they use that ‘down time’ to  keep up to date with social media sites.

Despite the overall positive sentiment of this improved experience through online commuting, etiquette is as important as ever. Almost half of those surveyed revealed that they’ve wanted to tell someone to turn down their music or video in a public place ( 47%) while 50% admitted that they wanted to tell someone to be quiet while talking on their mobile.


‘Sharenting’ is the new phenomenon whereby parents share information on social media about their family’s daily life – including blogs, tweets and posting pictures online. The research indicates that the majority of those surveyed (79%) feel that too much ‘sharenting’ takes place on Facebook these days, with more than three out four complaining that it is boring for others.  73% of respondents agree that ‘sharenting’ might be fun for the parents, but not for everyone else.

Shockingly only 5% of the population admitted to over-sharing family moments, which is surprising given that almost all those surveyed had experienced it on social media sites. There are still some benefits with ‘sharenting’ however – 35% of respondents feel that it strengthens bonds with friends and family – perhaps this could be attributed to the number of Irish people now living abroad and staying in touch with home.

Technology = better relationships

The nation’s love affair with technology is actually now enabling better relationships with friends, families and partners, as opposed to impinging on them.  The latest eHSS findings show an overwhelming 83% of respondents believe that technology has positively influenced their relationships with their friends, while positive sentiment slipped slightly for partners, with 73% revealing that technology had benefited their relationship. The findings also reveal that online dating has become much more sociably acceptable, with one in four  25-35 year olds admitting to visiting an online dating site.

The research indicates that family life has become more harmonious, as 80% of parents with kids aged 5 – 17 feel that technology helps to keep children amused and more than half of  the population revealing that it allows for a choice of media consumption in the home. The increased popularity of online tutorials and forums for hobbies are also becoming ubiquitous, as almost half of those surveyed felt that access to these had a positive impact on their lives.

The changing face of social media

The eHSS report also highlights the fast-paced changing world of social media; the rise in popularity of emerging sites aimed specifically at young people is especially apparent.

Not surprisingly, all of the 16-24 year olds in Ireland are online; 95% of this age group reveal that they access the internet once a day or more – and 15% admit that they are online ‘practically every hour that they are awake’. FOMO (fear of missing out) is still prevalent, with nearly half of 16-24 year olds (46%) admitting to a fear of missing out on something on social media when they are not online.

Facebook usage is declining amongst the younger cohort (16-24 year olds); down 5% points to 89%.  The reasons cited for the decline is it is no longer ‘cool’ (30%), while over a quarter of those surveyed said it took up too much of their time and 26% were driven away by bombardment of advertising. The networking site has experienced a rise in use amongst the over 35+ age group, however, growing from 34% in August 2013 to 40% in February 2014. So where are the younger generation spending their time online?  63% of 16-24 year olds are now using Snapchat while 48% are using Twitter.

Commenting on the survey findings today, Lisa Comerford, consumer marketing director at eircom said: “Our fourth eHSS is very interesting, especially in light of our recent survey last August, as it really highlights the pace at which technology is developing and impacting on our lives.  The surge in ownership of online devices “on the go” is quite remarkable – we truly are now a nation of smartphone users. What’s also intriguing is the rate of change in social media usage, as some sites become popular and others wane. The survey is especially important for eircom as it reflects much of our knowledge and understanding of our customers and the technology landscape, as well as providing a national context for the behavioral changes we all see around us. This index is now a valuable tool, providing a snapshot of how we are embracing technology in our everyday lives.”

David Coleman, clinical psychologist worked with eircom on the survey. He is particularly interested in the sharenting statistics revealed by the survey: “Sharenting is a fascinating trend that has gripped social media – and what is particularly interesting to see is the number of people in denial! The fact that we all see this on a daily basis means that there are almost certainly more than 5% of ‘sharenters’ out there –they just don’t realise (or admit) that they are doing it.

“Another really interesting outcome of the survey is the finding that commuting has now actually become more social – albeit in a non-conventional way – with more and more conversing digitally rather than via voice or face to face.  This does go against the expected outcome that we would become more and more isolated in our digital worlds, resulting in the exclusion of other people. It is heartening that the conversation is continuing, albeit in a different form.”

eHSS Infographic