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The Globe and Mail

Users admit it: Blackberry increases productivity

It's time to stop blaming the Blackberry.

Technology has been a scapegoat for countless ills of modern society and, when it comes to increasing workloads, many fingers point accusingly at the glowing smartphone screen.

There is ample evidence the devices are sucking away our time.

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Linda Duxbury, an expert in work-life balance at Carleton University's Sprott School of Business, surveyed 840 Canadian "knowledge workers," and found that 73 per cent of managers and 56 per cent of professionals work overtime on Blackberrys, laptops, cellphones and PDAs.

Managers and professionals use the devices an average of seven hours a week and 55 per cent said they increased their workloads.

But researchers studying how these devices impact people's lives have discovered that few people feel negatively about them.

A Nanos Research poll commissioned by The Globe found that a strong majority of Canadians thought cellphones or smart phones were either a neutral (42.6 per cent) or a positive (33.5 per cent) force in their lives.

In Prof. Duxbury's survey, only 45 per cent of respondents said the devices increased their stress, and 78 per cent of Blackberry users said they increased their productivity.

Barry Wellman, who studies social networks at the University of Toronto, believes the benefits of constant connectedness far outweighs the harm.

While people will use technology to stay in touch with the office during leisure hours, they also use the devices to communicate with friends and family during working hours.

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"I don't think they need to make drastic renunciation statements," he says.

Prof. Duxbury's survey found that 62 per cent or Blackberry users check them at home, 54 per cent use them in meetings, 42 per cent while commuting, 31 per cent while travelling and 12 per cent use them in restaurants.

Forty-four per cent say they use the gizmo everywhere.

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