Despite the emergence of Facebook and other social networks in recent years, good “old-fashioned” email was dominant when Pew Research Center surveyed a group of 535 working adults to learn their most important communications and information tools.
Pew found that just 4 percent of respondents considered social networks to be important tools, compared with 61 percent for email, 54 percent for the Internet in general, and even 35 percent for landline phones and 24 percent for mobile phones and smartphones. Pew wrote:
Email and the Internet are deemed the most important communications and information tools among online workers.
The high value of email comes despite the challenges of the past generation, including threats like spam and phishing and competitors like social media and texting. Surprisingly, landline phones outrank cell phones for these Internet-using workers. Social media is very low in importance.
Pew also found that only 7 percent of respondents felt that their productivity dropped due to the Internet, email and cellular phones, while 46 percent felt that those tools made them more productive.
The research outfit also examined employers’ attitudes toward these tools:
Employers are likewise changing practices regarding employees’ use of the Internet. Just under one-half of those surveyed say their employer blocks access to certain websites (46 percent) and has rules about what employees can say or post online (46 percent). The latter figure has more than doubled since Pew Research began asking about company rules about employees’ online presentation in 2006.
Blocked access to websites and rules about employees’ online postings are more common for those working in office-based professions. In contrast, among workers in traditionally non-office-based professions such as service, skilled and semi-skilled positions, fairly high percentages say they are not sure if their employer controls employees’ website access (29 percent) or has rules about what employees do online (35 percent).
Readers: What did you think of Pew’s findings?
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