How We Have Fun: The Tech Effect

How did we ever enjoy ourselves before all of this technology?

Leisure time with tablet

When you think “tech” and “leisure,” typically, activities such as gaming, Facebook-ing or messaging come to mind. However, technology is also influencing the ways in which we spend our offline time. A large part of this has to do with how many people are connected through their mobile devices.

How long has it been since you used a travel agent to plan a vacation? Another significant tech development that has impacted how we relax are the myriad services—Expedia, Kayak, Airbnb, Yelp, ect.—that allow us to plan vacations and adventures with just a tap on the screen.

[Related: With Tech, Work and Leisure Are Both 24/7 Activities]

The Mobile Influence
The White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group found that, due to the explosive adoption of nearly everyone carrying mobile devices, the ways in which we seek fun have shifted. Our idea of leisure time has changed, for the most part, from acquiring things to seeking experiences. And, of course, we also want to share those experiences through our social media channels.

“People throughout the world [are] sharing their entertainment experiences through social media,” writes the White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group, in a blog post. They also cited a study that showed how “the rapidly changing market continues to be driven by the passions of individuals and their innate desire to share their passions and positive experiences [through social media]. The study found that people share entertainment content as much as any other form of content – 76% share entertainment, 75% share about their own lives, and 76% share about their friends.”

Social media is now considered a form of leisure. And with smartphone cameras that allow us to take images of our food and videos of our kids and pets—the time spent sharing leisure activities on social media is considerable.

In addition to social media and mobile, we still have all of these cool devices that turn leisure time into high-tech fun. Not only do we get to play more with tech via PC and console gaming, but “3D headsets and virtual reality like Oculus Rift are entering gaming, meetings, and virtual travel tours,” says Dr. Tim Lynch of PsychsoftPC. And emerging technology like 3D printing allows anyone to “become a sculptor with the right computer, digital camera, and imaging software,” Dr. Lynch says.

The Impact of Sharing Services
The travel agent is quickly becoming as dated a profession as the stagecoach operator because there’s such an abundance of apps for expeditious travel planning. You can sit at your desk during your lunch break and look through Airbnb, Yelp, or Expedia to plan a trip, says Greg Spillane, chief product officer at Events.com.

In June of this year, The New York Times reported that Airbnb had grown to a million rooms. The hotel industry now considers the lodging service a serious threat to revenue. It’s a much more personal, customized experience for travelers to be able to search through hundreds of options for lodging rather than book at some chain hotel.

With transportation services such as Lyft and Uber, you don’t even have to worry about getting around on vacation. Just hail a car with your smartphone. Get hungry during your travels? OpenTable and Yelp’s peer reviews will let one find the best dining options anywhere.

Technology even helps us have better “staycations.” You don’t have to travel far for a new experience. Events.com is a site that focuses on “hyper-local events,” says Spillane. “You can see live music acts that are happening, food and wine tastings, or [additional locations] if you are looking to do something active with your family.”

Yonder is another app that allows users to share and track experiences, discover new places, and plan trips. Users can search for just about any activity, including running, hiking, biking, surfing, skiing, and camping.

From vacations to staycations, whether gaming, communicating or even dating, technology is a major factor in how we have fun.