The distractions of constant emails, text and phone messages are a greater threat to IQ and concentration than taking cannabis, according to a survey of befuddled volunteers.
Doziness, lethargy and an increasing inability to focus reached “startling” levels in the trials by 1,100 people, who also demonstrated that emails in particular have an addictive, drug-like grip.
Respondents’ minds were all over the place as they faced new questions and challenges every time an email dropped into their inbox. Productivity at work was damaged and the effect on staff who could not resist trying to juggle new messages with existing work was the equivalent, over a day, to the loss of a night’s sleep.
“This is a very real and widespread phenomenon,” said Glenn Wilson, a psychiatrist from King’s College, London University, who carried out 80 clinical trials for TNS research, commissioned by the IT firm Hewlett Packard. The average IQ loss was measured at 10 points, more than double the four point mean fall found in studies of cannabis users.
As with any research commissioned by a company and performed by another company without peer-review, these results are a little suspect. They may make great headlines, but I doubt they hold much truth to them.
Nonetheless, there is some validity to research of this kind. Survey research is the weakest kind of research you can perform, but it is often done to measure online behaviors (because it is so easy and cost-effective to do so). So this may be an interesting start to looking at how much distraction really affects the modern day worker and person in their private lives.