Is there a connection to use of modern technology and a sense of well-being? My research showed that most people were happy with their skills using Internet technology, and many people also reported good or excellent health (Hruska, 2012). I also learned that many people use technology for tasks like checking the weather (94%), ordering a product or service (94%), and looking for health information (98%). This is evidence that people use modern technology for all kinds of tasks. This is important news for the young, older and anyone in between that can benefit from use of technology to enhance their lives or the lives of others. But, what is it about modern technology that makes a real difference in our lives? In my research, I uncovered three important factors.
Use of modern technology increases efficiency. We have always used the technological tools of a culture to solve problems, like the use of writing to communicate an idea. Ancient people drew pictures to illustrate solutions to social issues on the cave walls. Just as in early human history when the spoken and recorded word was used to pass information from one generation to the next, modern technology passes knowledge to groups and individuals so they can develop self-regulatory skills and become more efficient at accomplishing simple to complex tasks (Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 1997). Today, on the Internet, you can have an appointment with your doctor, you can pay your bills, and keep a to-do list. With use of modern technology, we adjust our behavior, or use self-regulation, to move forward in society, like through attaining higher education or improving our health. Use of modern technology increases efficiency because it enables people to draw on their own experience and the experience of others. For example, if you want to stay healthy, you can use a mobile app that tracks and analyzes your eating and exercise habits, while also pulling knowledge from a database of advice from other people. Modern technical tools maximize efficiency by informing us on what has made other people successful and what to avoid in order to prevent failure.
Successful Goal Attainment
Modern technology helps people achieve their goals. People use self-regulation to attain goals, whether in health, education, or another realm. Technology supports self regulation toward goals. As people self-regulate toward goals, they sharpen skills and develop mastery; then, they can apply skills in different environments, like staying healthy while on vacation (Baumeister & Heatherton, 1996; Baumeister, Gailliot, DeWall, & Oaten, 2006) . We all know what happens when we become fatigued or more tempted than usual. Our self-regulation can fail us and we might relapse into a bad habit or veer off track from our goals (Baumeister & Heatherton, 1996; Baumeister & Vohs, 2007) . Technology can be used to support self-regulation and motivate us when we lack support or have run out of energy- when all other resources have failed. In other words, modern technology can help when we need it the most- when our self-regulation is depleted. For example, mobile apps will send reminders through text, phone, or email about when to exercise. There are websites that use reward systems for achieving goals, like paying off debt. There are electronic coupons that people can use at the store with their Smartphone to earn points and save money.
Modern technology can also help us solve problems and make good decisions as we progress toward the goals we set (Amini, 2013). For example, we can find out the steps required to complete a college degree by researching online and finding a plan that has worked for other people. We can draw on a database of knowledge to find out how to choose the right degree, how to use student loans, and how to achieve a high G.P.A. We can learn about alternative learning options, like MOOCS. We can watch videos or read stories about others that have achieved the same goals in order to avoid mistakes. With use of modern technology to support our goals, we do not feel as bad if we fail. Blame is less on ourselves, and more on the technology used (Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 1997). We can feel more secure in knowing that our process toward goal attainment is one that can be improved through even better technology.
People using technology to support self-regulation can feel a greater sense of well-being because they have the skills to use the modern tools that will allow them be more efficient and successful at accomplishing everyday, simple tasks and complex, higher-level, long-term goals. Based on the theories of Psychologist Albert Bandura (1991,1993), when a person feels a greater sense of control over their lives, or self-efficacy, they are likelier to set more complex goals and to be successful at achieving them; it is a self-supporting, cyclical process of achieving goals, feeling better, and setting more goals. Self-efficacy comes from many sources, like other people seeing how good you are at a task. Self-efficacy might also come from positive self-talk, like telling yourself how great you are doing at committing to a goal; and, when you achieve a goal, you feel a greater sense of self-efficacy. For example, an older person might use a brain training website to sharpen their memory skills. When they win one game on the website, they might feel confident enough to graduate to a more complex game. Technology provides people with tools to change their lives and improve their situations. The better a person feels about their skills using the tools of a culture, the more likely they will be to learn new skills and become more self-reliant and successful. They will be motivated to set higher-level, complex goals, thereby increasing their self-efficacy and well-being.
Technology advances at such lightening speed that sometimes it is difficult to know which technology is a passing fad versus what technology worth learning about. You might have been confused at the self-checkout the first time you saw it at the grocery store; or, you might have felt lost when you had to make your first video call over the Internet. Your doctor might suggest a new mobile app, and you do not even own a Smartphone.
Where do you start? There are a few options.
- First, check if there are classes to take in the local area. Many schools and community centers have classes on using on using mobile apps, the Internet, Skype, and more.
- A second option is to visit the technology section in the book store for books written in layperson’s terms like QR Codes for Dummies or Blogging for Beginners
- A third option is to learn about the latest technology by simply observing others. Observation can provide insight on out what is just a trend versus technology that is worth learning about. For a long time, I did not know what a QR code was. When I saw the code in more and more places, like on posters and business cards, I started to do some research and learned about their value.
The state of technology is in our hands. We control its fate, future use, and development to serve our needs. We use mobile apps to remind us to stay healthy. We use tools like social networks to communicate with friends, family, and coworkers. And, we use websites to stay informed of resources that will assist in everyday self-regulation and accomplishment of higher level goals. In turn, this use of modern technology can make us more efficient and increase self-efficacy and overall well-being- a rewarding cycle that builds upon itself.
Amini, M.T. (2013). Information Society, Virtual Communities, Globalization. Life Sci Journal, 10(4), 478- 481. Retrieved from http://www.lifesciencesite.com/lsj/life1004s/073_15735life1004s_478_481.pdf
Hruska, N. (2013). Self-Efficacy, Self-Regulation, and Technology. NatalieHruska.com. Retrieved from http://research.nataliehruska.com/se_sr_tech.html
Bandura, A. (1991). Social cognitive theory of self-regulation. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 248-287. doi 10.1016/0749-5978(91)9022-L
Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning. Education Psychologist, 28(2), 117-148. doi: 10.1207/s15326985Sep2802_3
Baumeister, R. F., Gailliot, M., DeWall, C.N., and Oaten, M. (2006). Self-regulation and personality: how interventions increase regulatory success, and how depletion moderates the effects of traits on behavior. Journal of Personality, (74)6. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.2006.00428.x
Baumeister, R.F. and Heatherton, T.F. (1996). Self-regulation failure: an overview. Psychological Inquiry, (7) 1, 1-15. doi 10/1207/s1207/s15327965pli0701_1
Baumeister, R. F. and Vohs, K. D. (2007). Self-regulation, ego depletion, and motivation. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, (1), 1-14. doi: 10/1111/j.1751-9004.2007.00001
Zimmerman, B. and Kitsantas, A. (1997). Developmental phases in self-regulation:shifting from process goals to outcome goals. Journal of Educational Psychology, (89)1, 29-36. doi: 10.1037//0022-06220.127.116.11