E-mail Addiction on the Rise

Perhaps this comes as no surprise, but almost half (46 percent) of e-mail users claim to be addicted to e-mail. Merriam-Webster OnLine defines "addicted" as "to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively." We definitely know some people like that--in fact, present company included.

In conjunction with Beta Research, AOL conducted an online poll for a week in early June of 4,000 e-mail users in "the top-20 U.S. markets." New York City came in as the "most email addicted" city in U.S., with 55 percent of New York City-based respondents admitting to e-mail addiction. We need to specify here that in the case of this survey, "addiction" is being self-determined by the respondents, and is not in any way being diagnosed by professional psychologists--although it would be interesting to see statistics on actual, professionally diagnosed e-mail addiction.

Credit: AOL

Just over half of all U.S. respondents claim to check their e-mail at least four times per day; and 20 percent of respondents say they check e-mail more than 10 times per day. And for most users (69 percent), this means checking multiple e-mail accounts. About a quarter of users (27 percent) feel so overwhelmed by e-mail that they either deleted "all their email messages to start anew, or they're seriously thinking about doing so. Maybe it's because 20% of users said they have over 300 emails in their inboxes!"

As so many users have access to e-mail from wireless devices, the places where people choose to check their e-mail from seems to have no bounds--some seemingly inappropriate and some potentially dangerous:

Credit: AOL

And it's not just where e-mail is checked, but also when. More than 50 percent claim that they check their work e-mail when on vacation--in fact 19 percent said they actually make sure to choose vacations spots that have e-mail access, and 28 percent of respondents said they felt "obligated to check work email while on vacation." Weekends are even worse, with 62 percent checking work e-mail on weekends at least once.

There needs to be a balance between using e-mail as a productivity tool and letting oneself become obsessed with it. Some companies such as U.S. Cellular and Intel, in fact, have toyed with the idea of "no e-mail Fridays" to try to show that it is possible to survive--even in the work environment--without e-mail. AOL claims that a year ago, only 15 percent of e-mail users claimed to be addicted to e-mail. A jump from 15 percent to 46 percent in only one year is monumental increase. Unless our behaviors change soon, it doesn't bode well for the future. Do you think you are addicted to e-mail? Let us know in the comments below.
Tags:  Mail, addiction, ISE, AI