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Using E-mail and other messaging technologies excessively can lower your IQ as much as if you smoked some weed, according to recent research sponsored by Hewlett-Packard.

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Using e-mail and other messaging technologies excessively can lower your IQ as much as if you smoked some weed, according to recent research sponsored by Hewlett-Packard.

According to researchers at the University of London Institute of Psychiatry, there's a serious "Info-Mania" problem among British workers, who are so addicted to constantly checking e-mail and text messages during meetings, in the evening, and on weekends that their IQs fall by 10 points. That's more than double the four-point plummet seen in studies done on the impact of smoking marijuana, the researchers said, and equal to the affect of missing a night of sleep. "This is a very real and widespread phenomenon," said Dr. Glenn Wilson, a psychologist with the Institute, in a statement. "We've found that Info-Mania, if unchecked, will damage a worker's performance by reducing their mental sharpness." An accompanying survey of 1,100 Britons commissioned by HP found that 62 percent were addicted to checking messages out of office hours and while on vacation. Half of them responded to an e-mail within an hour, and one in five said they were "happy" to interrupt a business meeting or social gathering to respond to an e-mail or telephone message. The distractions not only dull workers' intelligence, but irk other workers, said the survey and the study. Nearly nine out of ten said that colleagues who answer e-mails, text, or phone messages in a face to face meeting are "extremely rude." "We are in danger of being caught up in a 24 hour 'always on' society," said David Smith, of HP's U.K. division, in a statement. "This is more worrying when you consider the potential impairment on performance and concentration for workers, and the consequent impact on businesses. HP's posted a guide to spotting Info-Maniacs, and putting a stop to the problem; it's in PDF format and can be downloaded from the U.K. Web site of Hewlett-Packard.

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