MANY of us will have splashed out at Christmas on the latest smart phone, iPad or Xbox.

There is no doubt digital technology has had massive impact on the world and is capable of great things.

But are there any downsides? The problem, argues Paul Levy (pictured right), author of Digital Inferno, is we simply do not know.

A senior research fellow in innovation at the University of Brighton, Mr Levy is one of just a few people investigating the impact of digital technology on our lives.

He believes there has been a startling lack of consideration given to the possible effect on our mental wellbeing and personal relationships and argues for a better balance in work and at home.

The writer began his research after noticing how digital devices were interfering with his own life.

He said: “The work came from the impact digital media was having on my family life.

“I realised I was getting digitally addicted and I wasn’t writing as well.

“The book isn’t about switching off altogether, it’s about having a balance.

“Research shows if we schedule digital activity at a certain time of day it’s far more efficient than the constant drip-feed of content.”

In the workplace he says there is no evidence the quality of decision-making improves when staff are interacting with iPads. To avoid regular distractions he recommends switching off push notifications and alerts, applications he says are aimed at keeping users locked in for advertising purposes.

He added: “I’m convinced that when we’re exposed to the internet day in day out people are reading less, their vocabulary narrows, and everything becomes ‘amazing’.

“There’s an overload of information but we’re not taking the time to digest it properly.”

Far from being anti-technology, Mr Levy argues for more measured digital interaction.

He said: “Digital technology has produced some of the greatest inventions in humanity.

“But my research in Brighton found the vast majority felt they were not using it properly.

“It is those working in the digital sector, such as members of Wired Sussex, who use it really well. It is the younger generation who are leaving Facebook and switching off their phones in meetings.”

Despite its everyday use by millions, university research into the effects of digital devices is lagging far behind business-based commercial innovation.

Mr Levy added: “This could have a massive impact yet we know remarkably little.

“There’s much more communication but there’s little indication that it’s any more efficient.”

Digital Inferno: Using Technology Consciously in Your Life and Work, 101 Ways to Survive and Thrive in a Hyperconnected World is available on Amazon.