Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Seventy-five percent of computer users are email addicts

We all know that email has changed the way in which we communicate – but not many of us spare a thought for whether our increasing dependence on email is healthy. New research indicates that 75 percent of email users in Europe, the Middle East and Africa are addicted to email. While this may come as no surprise to many, what is most concerning is that these statistics highlight a truly unhealthy approach to email.

The study – conducted by Symantec – shows that 40 percent of computer users in South Africa are dependant on email, checking mail compulsively and panicking when they cannot gain access and spending an average of 2 hours per day on email. There are a number of factors that have led to this epidemic, as email has become far more than just a communication tool. People all over the world are using email programs to manage their diaries and contacts – effectively, email is now a daily diary as well as a communication tool, so it’s no surprise that users are utterly reliant on it to run their lives.

Mobile email is also impacting on our daily lives, as it means that we are now connected to friends and family 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, this also means that we are connected to the office and clients at all times – creating a ‘down-time’ vacuum in the lives of many busy professionals. According to the survey, 55 percent of South African mobile email users check their mail when they first wake up and gain before they go to bed. A frightening 55 percent check their email while on holiday and 27 percent when socialising. This has serious implications for the average person’s stress levels and ability to lead a balanced and health life.

To deal with this email addiction epidemic and enjoy a healthy life, free of information overload; Symantec advises users to adopt the following approach to dealing with email:

  • Think about when and where you access email
  • Try working offline and don’t feel obliged to respond to every email immediately
  • File mail once you’ve read it and only keep emails that are important to you – there is no need to keep the jokes sent by long-lost high school friends
  • Where possible, speak to people – in a world reliant on email, a conversation is far more precious
  • Help others manage their email, by not sending messages to everyone in your address book

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