Did you know that “Gaming Addiction” is now recognized by the World Health Organization as a mental health disorder? Interestingly, digital addiction doesn’t just apply to video games. It can occur with social media use, TV binge-watching, Fit-bit monitoring, email obsession, and online shopping.
Instant messaging, huge reply-all emails, and penalties for missing information only communicated via email keep employees tied to their computers and mobile devices. Pressure to stay plugged in during meetings and lunch time leave employees feeling out of balance and even more tied to their tech devices.
Associate Professor of Marketing and Psychology at NYU Adam Alter reports that 75% of people read work emails within 6 seconds of being received. This is especially alarming for Gen Xers (39-53 year-olds) whose work ethic dictates that they don’t leave work until their emails are caught up. With a culture dictating that emails be read ASAP, those trying to comply end up tech addicted and burned out.
Tech addiction for Globals and Millennials contributes to a knowledge gap with Gen Xers and Boomers. Take the example of asking for office directions. A Millennial or Global will pick up their phone and ask Siri how to navigate to the office. They may not even know street names along the route. Gen Xers will navigate using street names and landmarks and even if they use a navigation system, they still know the steps for reading a map if necessary. Gen Xers and Boomers understand steps and processes that technology has replaced for Globals and Millennials. Frustration occurs on work projects when younger generations can achieve results but they don’t understand the steps that got them there.
An interesting perspective suggests that employees aren’t tech addicted. Instead, our work cultures are goal addicted and technology enables the goals and targets to be measured and monitored. The constant chasing and over monitoring of work goals eventually leads to lower work satisfaction and lower performance.