Where do you fall on the Digimeter?

Summary

Digital research centre imec has released the results of its annual survey of our use of digital technology, with some surprising findings

It’s complicated

Are you a Passionate Lover or a Distant Acquaintance? Those are opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to our relationship with digital technology, according to tech research centre imec. It has just released the results of its new Digimeter, an annual survey on how Flemish society is working with – or against – digital technology at work, home and play.

It’s Digimeter’s 10-year anniversary this year, with a survey carried out among more than 4,700 residents of Flanders on their use of and feelings about technology and digital devices. A cross-section of genders, ages, educational backgrounds and geographical location is carefully calculated.

Like most of the rest of the world, the people of Flanders are digitally equipped. Only 2% own no smart devices at all. Smart devices include computers, tablet, smartphone, smart TVs or smart wearables. Even the generation gap is closing: Some 37% of people over the age of 65 have both a smartphone and a tablet.

People are becoming “more adult” in their use of smart devices compared with previous years, according to imec. In 2018, more than three-quarters of people put rules in place to regulate their use of devices. That’s up from 58% in 2017.

Digibesity

“There is a much more acute awareness of ‘digibesity’, and policymakers have addressed this with campaigns,” says professor Lieven De Marez of the imec research team. “But the market has also responded to digibesity, with, for instance, apps that monitor your screen time. Users are showing an increased maturity when it comes to technology and are looking to technologies that also show a sense of responsibility. This means transparency and the ethical use of data and technology.”

People are also integrating numerous screens in their daily lives, using the smartphones the most – 45% call it an “indispensable” object in their lives – and the TV the least. Only 5% of respondents said that the TV was indispensable.

But, while the use of the TV is in serious decline, the use of traditional media is seeing greater numbers – for the first time in years. It appears that social media and fake news reached a saturation point and that people are turning back to traditional news sources, such as TV news broadcasters and daily newspapers.

“Clear information about what users can expect is the key message to businesses who want to bring new technologies to market,” said De Marez.

In the end, a majority of Flemish residents – 63% – are neither Passionate Lovers (Unconditional love for technology) nor Distant Acquaintance (No real connection to technology). Rather our trust in technology – and in our ability to use it – falls somewhere in-between. One-quarter of us are what imec calls It’s Complicated: We use technology, but we proceed with caution.

Imec

Leuven-based imec is a world-leading nanotechnology and nanoelectronics research centre. Its main research areas are ICT, health care and energy.
Origins - Imec was established as an independent but Flemish government-backed research centre for microelectronics in 1984.
International - While its headquarters are in Leuven, imec has offices in the US, the Netherlands, Taiwan, China, India and Japan.
Clean room - Imec boasts two cleanrooms – dust-free labs to develop computer chips – and is developing a third.
36

spin-off companies

48

million euros in annual subsidy from the government of Flanders

2 000

staff members