Employees continue to put themselves at risk of isolation and depression by overdependence on email and the internet, says Nada Kakabadse – Professor of policy, governance and ethics at Henley School of Business and an expert in online addiction.
“Compulsive behaviour occurs when workers cross a boundary and spend increasing amounts of time online, sometimes waking up several times a night to check emails,” she explains.
“Our most recent study of 516 employed and unemployed men and women aged 18 to 65 surveyed their use of the internet, emotional stability, work patterns and work-life balance.
“Over 60 per cent of respondents reported feelings associated with Compulsive internet Use (CIU), including irregular eating patterns, poor relationships and feeling anxious when separated from their computer or mobile device.”
Nada continues: “CIU is defined by a person’s overreliance on the internet as a means to balance their work and personal lives.”
Researchers expected to find compulsive internet use at its highest levels among the young and the unemployed, but were surprised to discover that overachievers were actually the most at risk.
“Working excessively was the ‘strongest predictor’ of compulsive internet use,” adds Nada. “For workaholics it is worse as they are more likely to burn-out. They begin to lose judgement and make mistakes.”
The updated findings come in the wake of recent figures for the United States which show, in addition to workplace connectivity, 87% of online adults between the ages of 18 to 29 use Facebook, 53% use Instagram, 37% use Twitter, and 34% are on Pinterest (Pew Research Center).
In addition, more than 85% own smartphones (Nielsen) and touch these smartphones more than 45 times a day (SDL).
Nada concludes: “We believe technology producers, service providers and employers should issue guidelines on safe internet use. They have a duty of care to help educate people about the dangers of an addiction and the very real mental and physical side-effects involved.”
Picture by Tuomas_Lehtinen, courtesy of FreeDigitalphotos.net