Don’t IT make you feel good?

Information technology makes you happy — and it’s not just because of earning more money. At least that’s the claim of a new report by the former British Computer Society.

The group, now known as “BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT” says its analysis shows the biggest beneficial effects are for women and new users.

The report (PDF), “Information Dividend: Why IT makes you ‘happier’?” looks at multiple studies around the world. It looks at the increased levels of life satisfaction reported by people using IT, discounting the effects of income and other well-being related factors.

While it might be assumed that tech is the realm of the well-off and well-educated, the report found that in most cases the most striking effects were among the lower paid. This pattern continued all the way down the income brackets, with the exception of the lowest (household income under £14,000/approx US$20,000). That may be because this category covers retired people that find computers less engaging.

There was also a clear gender divide, with women’s satisfaction increasing much more through IT use than men. The biggest distinction came in developing nations, which may be because women in local cultures are more likely to be in “socially controlled roles”, a restriction that doesn’t apply as much when they are online.

However, there was still a difference in developed nations. Some studies covered by the report suggest this is because women gain more from the social element of technology. Another difference was that with men, the more use of IT they had, the bigger effect it had on their satisfaction levels, whereas frequency of use wasn’t a significant factor with women.

The report also puts together a league table of “Information Well-being” that measures the life satisfaction benefits in 38 countries, adjusting the results for gross domestic product. Unsurprisingly that meant developing nations came off best, with Zambia listed as the place where IT has the biggest benefits for uses. China came at the bottom, which is almost certainly because of the tight restrictions on internet use.

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