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10:34 AM
Penny Crosman
Penny Crosman

Unplug and Enjoy the Break, If You Can

The downside of texting at the holiday dinner table.

A few recent surveys show that too many people plan to text and check email over the holiday break.

A Symantec survey of 117 employed smartphone users (recruited through social media channels) found that 81% expect to use their smartphone to check work-related email while taking time off from work for the holidays. In addition, 77% plan to check personal email, 64% plan to make work-related phone calls, 48% plan to do work-related texting and 74% plan to do personal texting during the Christmas break.

In a survey of small business professionals conducted by Egnyte, again 83% said they plan to access work data using a smartphone during the approaching holidays -- 79% "when they can get away with it," 12% "during the drive to Grandmother's house" and 4% at the dinner table.

If you're a fireman, an IT person on call, or the CEO of a company in crisis, then of course, it's understandable that you would need to check every ping because it may be an emergency to which you have to respond. But for the rest of us, I'm guessing 80%-90% of texts sent over the holidays are of the "I M TTLY BRD RT NW" variety.

There are two problems with constant smartphone use over a holiday break, in my view. One is, generally speaking, checking texts and emails at a dinner table or any time others are speaking to you is discourteous (I realize this makes me sound 300 years old, but I've given this a lot of thought and believe it's true). Unless others are also texting or the messages are part of the group conversation or group plans, or you tell those you're with about the SMS conversation, it tells those trying to talk with you: "although I haven't looked at it yet, I am certain that this incoming text is much more important than you and what you're saying."

The second drawback to indulging a smartphone addiction during the holidays is that it can diminish the restful benefits of the vacation. A holiday break is a rare opportunity to think quietly, to reflect on the past year, and to set personal and professional goals for the coming year. If the time is frittered away with constant, unnecessary texting and emailing, you could end up more burned out at the end of the vacation than you are today.

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