It turns out American workers might actually use instant messaging (IM) to discuss more than Britney Spears’ marital status. A new survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project suggests that programs like AOL Instant Messenger and Yahoo! Instant Messenger are good for doing actual work, in addition to gossiping (see the chart). The survey found that of the 53 million U.S. adults who use IM, some 11 million (21 percent) indulge in it at work. Of those, about half said it helps them save time on tasks; 40 percent said it improves teamwork. On the flip side, 32 percent said it encourages gossip; 29 percent said it has been distracting for them; and an overstimulated 11 percent said it has added stress to their lives. Asked for an overall judgment, 11 percent of IM-at-work users said they couldn’t live without it; 68 percent said it’s a mixed blessing but mostly positive; 4 percent said it’s a mixed blessing but mostly negative; and 10 percent said they wish they could do away with it.
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