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3/14/2008
01:26 PM
Tom LaSusa
Tom LaSusa
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See, It's Not So Easy To Disconnect, Is It?

Back in January, I pondered if I would be able to survive a week away from e-mail, cell phones (other than for emergencies), and overall connectivity during my family's trip to Disneyworld. Several readers expressed surprise and disbelief at such a quandary, saying how easy it was for them to leave their gear behind for vacations and extended periods of time. According to a new study, however, disconnec

Back in January, I pondered if I would be able to survive a week away from e-mail, cell phones (other than for emergencies), and overall connectivity during my family's trip to Disneyworld. Several readers expressed surprise and disbelief at such a quandary, saying how easy it was for them to leave their gear behind for vacations and extended periods of time. According to a new study, however, disconnect anxiety is not all that uncommon.Research consulting firm SRG recently completed a two-year study on the emotional reactions of people severed from e-mail, cell phones, PDAs, social interaction Web sites, and more. Nearly 5,000 U.S. citizens (ages 12 - 50+) were interviewed on their use and feelings toward these communication and entertainment technologies.

Of that number, a whopping 68% said they felt some degree of anxiety when they were disconnected; 27% of that group said they experienced particularly high levels of emotional upset. The remaining 41% felt occasionally distressed (depending on the situation). The remainder (32%) said they felt nothing.

What separated the groups? Unsurprisingly, lots and lots of birthdays. The first and second groups were made up primarily of people between the ages of 12-24 and 25-49. The majority of the last group was comprised of folks over the age of 50. Older folks, logging in to get recent pics of the grandkids and the occasional instant message chat, weren't very upset at all if they couldn't connect. Young adults, on the other hand, didn't handle the detachment quite as well. They expressed feelings of isolation, fearful that they might miss out on social activities, the bonds of friendship, etc.

Much like I opined in my previous blog, the demographic in the middle -- namely folks around my age -- were most concerned about missing out on work-related issues when disconnected.

The study included "behavioral flags" that were indicative of someone who might be prone to suffering from disconnect withdrawal. Individuals who log on constantly on sites like Facebook. Those who might even take -- or make -- a cell phone call while in the bathroom. Parents whose own children say "Seriously, Dad, back away from the computer."

Thankfully that hasn't happened to me yet, but only because my kids are still too young (My wife, on the other hand...).

Check out the findings here -- then come back and let us know if you, or anyone you know, gets nervous when they disconnect.

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