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Think You Might Be Addicted to E-mail? You’re Not Alone

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RISMEDIA, July 30, 2007—If you’re sleeping with a portable device next to your pillow so you will not miss an e-mail during the night, you are not alone. According to AOL’s third annual “E-mail Addiction” survey, more Americans than ever before are using portable devices to keep tabs on their e-mail throughout the day and night, and from virtually anywhere – bed, cars, bathrooms and even church.

“E-mail is becoming more and more accessible, and people continue to take advantage of that,” said Regina Lewis, AOL Online Consumer Advisor. “As the survey data shows, portable devices – like e-mail itself – are becoming more prevalent and easier to use. Because you can access e-mail services like AOL from virtually anywhere and on almost any wireless device, it is easier to stay connected to work, home, family and friends through e-mail — and instant messaging as well — than any other form of communication.”

AOL, in partnership with Opinion Research Corporation, conducted online surveys with 4,025 respondents 13 and older in 20 cities around the country to measure e-mail usage.

It showed that e-mail use on portable devices has nearly doubled since 2004, and as a result, people are checking e-mail around the clock. According to the survey, the average e-mail user checks mail about five times a day, and 59% of those with portable devices are using them to check e-mail every time a new message arrives. Forty-three percent of e-mail users with portable devices say they keep the device nearby when they are sleeping to listen for incoming mail.

With or without portable devices, 15% of Americans describe themselves as “addicted to e-mail,” and many are even planning their vacations with e-mail access in mind. About four in ten e-mail users say it is “very” or “somewhat” important to them to think about e-mail accessibility when they are planning a vacation, and eighty-three percent of e-mail users admit to checking their mail once a day while actually on vacation.

Other significant findings include:

- Washington, DC is the most “e-mail addicted” city in the country. Eighty-two percent of Washingtonians have multiple e-mail accounts – the highest percentage of any city in the survey. Rounding out the top 10 cities addicted to e-mail are: 2.) Atlanta; 3.) New York; 4.) San Francisco; 5.) Houston; 6.) Los Angeles; 7.) Seattle; 8.) Orlando; 9.) Denver; and 10.) Miami.
- Americans are e-mailing anywhere and everywhere. Fifty-nine percent of people e-mailing from portable devices are checking e-mail in bed while in their pajamas; 53% in the bathroom; 37% are checking e-mail while they drive; and 12% admit to checking e-mail in church.
- Women (16%) are more likely to describe themselves as addicted to e-mail than men (13%), and are actually spending 15 minutes more per day on e-mail than men.
- Forty-three percent of e-mail users check their e-mail first thing in the morning, and 40% have checked their e-mail in the middle of the night. Twenty-six percent admit to checking e-mail on a laptop in bed while in their pajamas.
- Sixty percent of people who e-mail admit to checking their personal e-mail at work an average of three times a day. While only 15% of those who do so have been “busted” by their bosses, 28% say they feel guilty about it.

Dealing with E-mail Addiction:

According to Lewis, e-mail addiction has less to do with curbing an obsession than it does with proper time and e-mail management. She offers the following tips to help people deal with “e-mail addiction:”

- Organize: Use folders provided in most free e-mail services such as AOL to file messages appropriately. Simple drag and drop technology allows you to file your messages by category, and can help avoid repetitive communication.
- Use the away message: If you feel compelled to answer every e-mail as it comes in, use your away message to let people know that you have stepped away from e-mail for the day (or night), and will respond when you return.
- Follow the Rule of Three: If you have e-mailed back and forth with the same person on the same topic more than three times, it is time to pick up the phone and have a conversation.

Survey Methodology:
The results are based on interviews conducted online with 4,025 Americans age 13 and over. The survey was conducted June 9-19, 2007.

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