Text Messaging Actually Good for Concentration, Study Finds

Last Updated Jun 11, 2008 4:50 AM EDT

  • Text Messaging Actually Good for Concentration, Study FindsThe Find: If you think text messaging is a distraction for your team, think again. A new study finds workers who use text messaging at the office actually report fewer interruptions.
  • The Source: A recent study by researchers at Ohio State University and University of California, Irvine published in the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication.
The Takeaway: The researchers spoke to nearly 1,000 randomly selected people from 12 different US metropolitan areas who worked at least 30 hours per week in an office and used a computer for at least five hours in a workday. What they found explodes the myth that Yahoo or G-chat is holding back your employees' productivity. The research showed:
Instant messaging was often used as a substitute for other, more disruptive forms of communication such as the telephone, e-mail, and face-to-face conversations. Using instant messaging led to more conversations on the computer, but the conversations were briefer, said R. Kelly Garrett, co-author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State.
The professors found that people were using text messaging to see if colleagues were busy before interrupting them and to get answers to quick questions, rather than carrying on about office gossip or sending over links to the best new YouTube time-wasters.

The Question: Do the study's conclusions jive with your own experience -- is text messaging a productivity killer or a productivity booster for your team?

(Image of text messaging from one desk over by eob, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.