RealTime IT News

Addicted to E-Mail? You're Not Alone

E-mail has become a pervasive, mission-critical aspect of business and personal life for many. It turns out, though, that Americans actually have an obsessive-compulsive need to check it morning, noon and night.

America Online and Opinion Research Corporation surveyed 4,012 respondents in 20 U.S. cities to gauge the degree to which Americans obsess over e-mail. According to the results of the E-Mail Addiction survey, released today, e-mail users depend on e-mail as much as the phone for communication.

Sixty-one percent reported that they checked their personal e-mail accounts while at work an average of three times a day. Most users (47 percent) will check their personal e-mail accounts sporadically throughout the day. Upon arriving to work (25 percent), at lunchtime (18 percent), during an afternoon break (8 percent) and just before heading home (2 percent) trail in frequency.

Slightly more than a quarter (26 percent) indicated that they checked their personal e-mail to take care of personal errands while 20 percent checked it to correspond with family and friends.

The vast majority of respondents have never been "busted" for checking their personal e-mails while on the company dime, and only 9 percent reported that they've ever been caught by the boss.

E-mail also follows Americans on vacations, with 60 percent checking it while away on holiday: 13 percent of the time for business and 47 percent for pleasure.

For some, e-mail has been at the core of a restless night with 40 percent indicating that they have checked their e-mail in the middle of the night. First thing in the morning is the time noted by 40 percent of respondents for checking, while 14 percent check as soon as they get home from work. Eighteen percent check after dinner and 14 percent check before going to bed.

E-mail has become such an important component of life that 26 percent reported that they havent gone more than two to three days without checking in.

Adding to the addiction is the fact that the average e-mail user had 2.8 e-mail accounts, with 56 percent of respondents indicating they had two or three e-mail accounts.

AOL's survey respondents also reported on what e-mail features users were most interested in.

"One very interesting thing that we found in this survey is how much people liked the ability to un-send their e-mail messages. Chamath Palihapitiya, AOL vice president and general manager for AIM and ICQ, told internetnews.com. "So, if you were trigger happy and sent something off before you were ready, they wanted to be able to pull it back."

In fact 45 percent of respondents were interested in such a feature for messages that had not yet been read while 14 percent wanted to be able to un-send a message that had already been read.

Users were also interested in being notified if an e-mail they sent had been forwarded (43 percent) and 27 percent were interested in preventing their e-mails from being forwarded.

The top 10 markets that can't live without their e-mail:
  1. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
  2. San Francisco
  3. Philadelphia
  4. New York
  5. Houston
  6. Washington, D.C.
  7. Boston
  8. Dallas-Ft. Worth
  9. Chicago
  10. Los Angeles

Source: AOL