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Americans Check Their Emails Even When They’re Sick And on Vacation

A new study confirms what we all shamefully know: even when we're sick or on vacation, we check our emails

smithsonian.com

Image: Jon Archer

A new study confirms what we all shamefully know: even when we’re sick or on vacation, we check our email. Over half of us check our email on the weekend, before and after work, and even when we’re home sick. While on vacation, 44 percent of people do the same.

The survey, run by the American Psychological Association, also found that there were some differences between men and women in their electronics use. Men tended to be more likely to check work messages when not at work, but they were also more likely to say that that connectivity had a positive affect on their work relationships. But those same men were more likely to say that this constant connectivity had a negative impact on their work-life balance and personal relationships.

There has been a lot of digital ink spilled over how our work addiction and constant tether to our smart phones and computers is probably bad for us. But the researchers on this study suggest that it’s not just about unplugging your device to recharge your mind.

“People are often given the advice to unplug if you want to achieve work-life balance and recharge,” David W. Ballard, the assistant executive director at the American Psychological Association says in the organization’s statement. “While there’s no question that people need downtime to recover from work stress and avoid burnout, that doesn’t necessarily require a complete ‘digital detox.’ For many people, the ability to stay connected adds value to their work and personal lives. We’re learning that not everyone wants to power down, and that’s OK.”

The take-home, Ballard says, is that being connected isn’t always entirely a bad thing. “The benefits are only sustainable, however, when these tools are used in ways that are a good fit for each individual’s needs, skills and preferences.”

More from Smithsonian.com:

Before Email, There Was V-mail
No One Knows When You’re Being Sarcastic in Emails

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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