Love Technology…Love People More.™
A New Jersey town’s recent ban on texting while walking has captured our attention. Fort Lee, N.J., police will soon begin issuing $85 jaywalking tickets to pedestrians who are spotted texting while walking, according to ABC News.
The decision to ban texting was not a spontaneous one, but rather a legislative reaction to a string of three fatal accidents, all involving pedestrians who were texting while walking.
While some Fort Lee residents are upset with the ban, we think it’s a good way to highlight the dangers of texting while walking – or driving, for that matter.
The ABC News story points to a study by Stony Brook University in New York, which found that texters are 60 percent more likely to veer off course than non-texters, because the act of texting alters their gait when walking. The study also showed that texting interferes with memory.
“We want to raise awareness that a real disruption occurs because of texting,” Eric Lamberg, co-author of the study, told ABC News. “Texting disrupts your ability much more than does talking.”
Jurors’ inability to refrain from posting information about court trials on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook poses a serious threat to the judicial system, with such behavior threatening mistrials and overturned verdicts, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal.
In one high-profile case, an accused murderer’s conviction was thrown out after a juror was found to have tweeted about the case on Twitter throughout the trial. The accused on trial, Erickson Dimas-Martinez, was found guilty of murder in March 2010 by an Arkansas jury and sentenced to death for the robbery-murder of a teenager. But in December, the Arkansas Supreme Court set aside the verdict and ordered a new trial – saying a juror who tweeted about the case was guilty of juror misconduct.
In other cases, jurors have been chastised and even held in contempt for “friending” defendants or plaintiffs on Facebook. And this month, a state appeals court in Sacramento, Calif., will hear a motion from defense attorneys in a gang-beating case asking to overturn verdicts against their clients in light of a juror posting information on Facebook during the trial.
Judges typically request that jurors refrain from posting online information about cases they are hearing. The judges are concerned about what jurors may say when they tweet or post, fearing that the jurors may reveal a bias about the case or disclose information that has not yet been made public.
But, while courts routinely impose social media bans on jurors during trials, it is proving quite a challenge to enforce these bans. The Wall Street Journal observes: “At a time when authorities can’t even stop some people from risking their lives by sending text messages while driving,” getting jurors to restrict their social media use is proving a particularly difficult feat.
Does being plugged in 24/7 make for a better employee?
Not necessarily. According to Time.com, employers are encouraging their employees to find a better work-life balance by taking a break from being constantly connected.
In a recent article, “Why Companies Should Force Employees to Unplug,” the online news magazine cited companies ranging from Atos and Duetsche Telekom to Google and Volkswagen, which have recently adopted measures to get their employees to unplug from technology. Volkswagen, for example, deactivates emails on German staff BlackBerries during non-office hours and limits the transmission of work-related emails during non-work hours. Google famously insists its employees unplug for portions of their workweek, the better to stir creative juices.
But employers are motivated by more than altruism, says Time. The news magazine noted a 2009 Stanford University study, which found that people who are constantly exposed to electronic information don’t pay attention as well or switch from task to task as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.
“There’s no priority structure. Everything is urgent. Everything is red flagged,” Nancy Rothbard, a Wharton management professor, told Time.com. As a result, activities that require a great deal of focus — like decision making or writing — get short shrift.
The ability to focus is not all that suffers from our constant connection to technology. Time.com cited numerous studies showing that psychological detachment is important to employees’ health and well being, as well as stress reduction. This well being, in turn, translates to fewer sick days and lower healthcare costs for employers.
Another study by the Harvard Business School found that study participants who were encouraged to engage in regular downtime while carrying out a high-pressure project reported greater job satisfaction, were more likely to envision a long-term career with their firm, and experienced a better work-life balance than those who did not participate in the study.
These are all compelling reasons employees to unplug and reconnect — and for their employers to support them while they’re doing it.