A new survey reveals that one in two Americans are unhappy with the performance of their computer in the past six months and 94% of those who have had performance problems say their computer is a source of stress.
In the last few years computers, phones and the Internet have changed our lives to a degree that all of us can recognise. From school students to politicians, we are all connected. Technology allows us to finalise our tasks quicker and more efficiently; it has increased our productivity and thus giving us more time to spend with our families and friends.
A new research commissioned by Crucial.com, a leading online destination for memory upgrades, provides deeper insight into the frustration Americans are experiencing when it comes to their computers’ performance. The nationwide survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive revealed that more than half (52%) of U.S. adults who own a computer have been unhappy with the performance of their computer in the past six months, with an overwhelming majority (94%) of those who have experienced performance problems indicating that their computer performance issues have caused them to experience stress.
Roddy McLean, the marketing director of Crucial.com said that, “Computers are supposed to make our lives easier, but as we depend on our computers more and more for both professional and personal use, performance issues such as slow loading programs, unresponsiveness, memory warnings and system crashes often result in a computer becoming a significant source of unneeded stress and frustration for users”.
When those who have experienced stress as a result of their computer’s performance issues were asked to compare computer-induced stress with other forms of stress, they indicated that their computer performance issues, such as slow loading programs, unresponsiveness, and crashes, were more stressful than:
• choosing what to wear (47%)
• traffic jams (27%)
• going through airport security (21%)
• dealing with finances (19%)
• filing taxes (18%)
• managing their overall health (14%)
• arguing with their spouse (13%)
Still, despite the high level of computer-induced stress and frustration among Americans, nearly two-thirds (63%) of computer owners have never attempted to install memory into their computer themselves. A simple memory upgrade could resolve their computer’s problems.
McLean added, “It is stunning to see that although computers have become such a part of the fabric of our everyday lives, most computer users are seemingly still unaware that a simple do-it-yourself memory upgrade can often times resolve performance issues and renew the life of an existing computer”.
Causes of computer-induced stress
Most of us have experienced back pain, eye strain, headaches and neck pain, repetitive stress injuries or lack of focus when using a computer. Constant stress can elevate blood pressure and lead to heart attacks or stroke. So what really causes these physical and emotional stresses?
This includes incorrect keyboard placement, chairs are too low or too high or offer no support and screens that are too small or dim all contribute to being physically discomfort when working at the computer. As well, office setups which face a desk toward a window or force the user to reach unnaturally to use a mouse or keyboard can be a serious health risk. Insufficient lighting is also a problem.
Outdated computers are the biggest reason for computer frustration. Systems that crash frequently or are just slow cause great frustration to users. When talking to employees to assess morale problems, the most common problem is that the equipment can be frustrating to use and this contributes to the discontent of the user. In fact, outdated or inadequate equipment is one of the top 5 reasons why employees quit their job. Insufficient training on the hardware or software that is provided also contributes to a high stress level.
Alleviate computer-induced stress
After mentioning what causes such stress, we will now see how we can do to lessen this stress.
Make your own workstation as comfortable as possible. Do not hold back on spending money on your chair or your desk. Get something that fits you perfectly and spare no expense. If you have that bit of extra money to spend, invest in a large LCD display with high contrast to reduce eye strain. Raise the screen if it is below eye level. Use a footrest. This much overlooked addition can really make a difference in your posture and lower back. Decorate your room by adding a plant. NASA researchers have proven that having a plant at your workstation reduces your stress level. Stretch and take a break, if possible, for some minutes per hour. Get some fresh air. If you cannot leave your desk, try closing your eyes while waiting for that file to save or that page to load.
Get good equipment
The worst thing you can do for the reliability and longevity of your computers, monitors and printers is to buy the least expensive thing you can find. Do your research and buy the best equipment you can afford right now. Your systems will be up to the task for many years. Maintain it once you get it. If you have a server, you absolutely must monitor it every month to look for signs of failing hardware or imminent software problems. Learn how to use what you have. Identify the program you use most often, and buy an instruction book for that program. This will help you learn the smart way to use your software and save you time and frustration in the process.
Follow the above tips and you can make the time you spend at the computer more productive and more enjoyable. The more you know about the causes of stress, the better equipped you are to lessen it.
Gail Buttigieg is currently placed at MITA as part of the Student Placement Programme 2012