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Old 10-02-2006, 12:30 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default [2006-10-01] CrackBerry addicts: Why the workers who can't switch off are suing their

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CrackBerry addicts: Why the workers who can't switch off are suing their employers

By Sophie Goodchild and Martin Hodgson
Published: 01 October 2006


No self-respecting boss-in-waiting would be without one. The BlackBerry has replaced the Filofax and the mobile phone as the must-have status symbol for the 21st-century office climber. But now these discreet handheld gadgets, which provide workaholics with constant email updates, are being blamed for chronic insomnia, relationship break-up, premature burn-out, and even car crashes.

British employers are being warned they could face multi-million-pound legal actions from BlackBerry-addicted staff on a similar scale as class law-suits taken against tobacco companies. Research by the University of Northampton has revealed that one-third of BlackBerry users showed signs of addictive behaviour similar to an alcoholic being unable to pass a pub without a drink.

The report found that some BlackBerry users displayed textbook addictive symptoms - denial, withdrawal and antisocial behaviour - and that time with their families was being taken up with BlackBerry-checking, even at the dinner table.

Professor Nada Kakabadse, joint author of the study, said that lawsuits were a growing issue for employers who were being sued for failing in their duty of care to staff and in following health and safety guidelines. In one case in the US, a female business consultant claimed that her marriage fell apart because she was constantly checking messages. She ended up losing custody of her children and sued her employer for damages.

"Enlightened companies that issue BlackBerrys as standard like pen and paper should also have policies on how to use them, so that people can use technology in a way that doesn't have an addictive side," said Professor Kakabadse of Northampton Business School.

The BlackBerry backlash has already begun in the US, where firms are settling out of court to avoid negative publicity.

The Independent on Sunday has learnt that, in one recent case, an employer had to pay substantial damages to a woman who was so distracted by her BlackBerry while driving that she crashed and killed a motorcyclist. In another, a woman took action after putting cleaning fluid on her baby's nappy instead of baby oil because she was distracted by her BlackBerry.

And last week, health officials warned of a painful new syndrome - BlackBerry Thumb - caused by excessive use of the portable devices. The American Physical Therapy Association says that middle-aged businessmen are particularly at risk of this disorder, which can aggravate arthritis.

More than five million BlackBerrys have been sold worldwide since they were first launched eight years ago and they have been credited with revolutionising working life. Also known as personal data assistants, these palm-sized handsets allow people to send and receive emails and other messages as well as to browse the internet.

The maker of BlackBerry, Research In Motion, argues that the machines enable people to be more efficient and to save "dead" time while in transit or waiting for meetings. However, experts are increasingly warning that they are as addictive as drugs and alcohol. They have even been dubbed "crackberries" because some users say they make them feel compelled to check messages constantly.

This comes as a new study reveals that nine out of every 10 users have a compulsive need to check for messages and that nearly half experience long-term negative consequences associated with carrying a BlackBerry. A survey of business workers by researchers at the Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US found that employees were constantly tired because they were waking up in the middle of the night to check or send messages. One interviewee likened the sense of potential gain from staying in touch with work to "pulling the lever of a slot machine".

Melissa Mazmanian, one of the report's authors, described the BlackBerry as a "comfort blanket", which fulfils the human need to reach out to others but also maintains a sense of control, unlike a telephone conversation. "Spouses find it frustrating and aggravating and to avoid problems couples have to negotiate rules and boundaries over use," said Ms Mazmanian.

Her findings are backed up by an investigation carried out by the Chartered Management Institute. This found that managers are now under extreme pressure to be contactable around the clock, but this has a hugely negative impact on productivity, health and wellbeing. This is exacerbated by the fact that many take communication gadgets, such as Blackberrys, laptops and mobile phones, away on holiday and refuse to switch them off.

Phillip Hodson, from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), said that devices such as BlackBerrys were "beguilingly seductive" because they provide the illusion of freeing up more time, but that the human brain was not properly adapted to the multi-tasking that modern life demands. "The real battle now is not over money but over who controls time," he said. "What this nation needs is eight hours' work, eight hours' rest and eight hours' play a day. Gordon Brown doesn't know how to play, that's his problem - he's probably on his BlackBerry."

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said that employers should actively discourage office cultures where people feel they are under pressure to be working round the clock.

But Martyn Sloman, policy adviser to the CIPD, said that people do need to take responsibility for their own behaviour rather than "shooting the messenger".

A spokesman for the manufacturers of BlackBerry dismissed suggestions that the machines are addictive. "They reclaim that productive time each day that would otherwise be wasted in transit or waiting for meetings," said James Hart, vice-president of Research In Motion. "BlackBerry handsets can help us to achieve more - both at work and at home. But, as with any piece of technology, the most important button is the 'off' switch."

Source: Independent Online Edition > Science & Technology
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Old 10-03-2006, 02:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Couldn't help but notice that in this lengthy article, not once did the words "personal accountabilty" appear.

I find that to be an interesting omission.
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Old 10-03-2006, 04:54 PM   #3 (permalink)
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In my eyes, that is one of the biggest problems facing society today. No one wants to take "personal accountabilty" for anything anymore. Its always someone elses fault.
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Old 10-03-2006, 06:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Couldn't agree more. Thanks for posting this, it is a great example of our point, and one that has relevance to anyone who follows this forum.
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Old 10-03-2006, 06:17 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ndub33
Couldn't help but notice that in this lengthy article, not once did the words "personal accountabilty" appear.

I find that to be an interesting omission.
So maybe not in those words, but I do believe this article does address that issue:
Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fisher
But Martyn Sloman, policy adviser to the CIPD, said that people do need to take responsibility for their own behaviour rather than "shooting the messenger".
Very interesting article, thanks d_fisher.
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Old 10-03-2006, 07:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Point well taken, I missed that when I read the article initially.
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Old 10-20-2006, 10:08 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jevidon
So maybe not in those words, but I do believe this article does address that issue:
Very interesting article, thanks d_fisher.
well sue em' anyways! just kidding
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Old 10-21-2006, 09:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Boy is that right on the mark. Say, is there an off switch?
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Old 10-22-2006, 09:01 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Enlightened companies that issue BlackBerrys as standard like pen and paper should also have policies on how to use them, so that people can use technology in a way that doesn't have an addictive side
What a mess. We have clearly devolved into a collection of helpless morons that have to have a policy to tell us how not to hurt ourselves. Add to that the people that found in favor of these morons that sued and won. How in the hell is it an employers fault that an idiotic female driver killed someone on a motorcycle just because the employer issued her a BlackBerry? And how in the hell did the BlackBerry cause the other stupid female to put cleaning solution on her baby's wet-nap instead of baby oil?

People's natural stupidity is no one else's fault but their own. Learn to be smart or accept that you are stupid. Get over yourself and point your finger at yourself for a change.

Wait... I now have carpel tunnel syndrome from typing this response. If I can find an address for this website, I'm gonna sue!
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Old 10-25-2006, 09:51 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Old 10-26-2006, 06:38 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Ah SPAM. Gotta love it.
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Old 10-27-2006, 08:21 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Old 11-13-2006, 06:47 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
The report found that some BlackBerry users displayed textbook addictive symptoms - denial, withdrawal and antisocial behaviour - and that time with their families was being taken up with BlackBerry-checking, even at the dinner table.
That is...is...me. Particularly the anti-social behavior, er, denial, withdrawal. I was recently speaking with my Psych (due to um, apparently some think I have hostile tendencies towards stupid people (ie. bosses)) about not getting out more to mingle with other people. I didn't have the heart to say I was in love with my BB and found there are plenty of people on the other end of the email I speak too constantly. I think we are mingling.
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