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Think You Might Be Addicted to Email? You’re Not Alone


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

“Email 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 email itself – are becoming more prevalent and easier to use. Because you can access email 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 email -- 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 email usage. It showed that email use on portable devices has nearly doubled since 2004, and as a result, people are checking email around the clock. According to the survey, the average email user checks mail about five times a day, and 59% of those with portable devices are using them to check email every time a new message arrives. Forty-three percent of email 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 email,” and many are even planning their vacations with email access in mind. About four in ten email users say it is “very” or “somewhat” important to them to think about email accessibility when they are planning a vacation, and eighty-three percent of email users admit to checking their mail once a day while actually on vacation.

Other significant findings include:

- Washington, DC is the most “email addicted” city in the country. Eighty-two percent of Washingtonians have multiple email accounts – the highest percentage of any city in the survey. Rounding out the top 10 cities addicted to email 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 emailing anywhere and everywhere. Fifty-nine percent of people emailing from portable devices are checking email in bed while in their pajamas; 53% in the bathroom; 37% are checking email while they drive; and 12% admit to checking email in church.

- Women (16%) are more likely to describe themselves as addicted to email than men (13%), and are actually spending 15 minutes more per day on email than men.

-Forty-three percent of email users check their email first thing in the morning, and 40% have checked their email in the middle of the night. Twenty-six percent admit to checking email on a laptop in bed while in their pajamas.

- Sixty percent of people who email admit to checking their personal email 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 Email Addiction:

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

Organize: Use folders provided in most free email 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 email as it comes in, use your away message to let people know that you have stepped away from email for the day (or night), and will respond when you return.

Follow the Rule of Three: If you have emailed 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.
For more information on email addiction, as well as more complete national and regional survey results from AOL’s Email Addiction survey, visit or

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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