NET NEWS: High-Tech Anxiety

Science  10 Sep 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5434, pp. 1635
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5434.1635c

Frazzled by that hulk of plastic and silicon chips staring you down? You aren't the only one. Computers are a major cause of stress in many professors' lives, according to a new survey of 33,785 faculty members. Two-thirds reported that “keeping up with information technology (IT)” is a source of stress, outranking research and publishing demands, teaching load, and the promotion process—but not as anxiety-provoking as time pressures, household demands, or institutional red tape.

The survey, by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, concludes that IT stress “is quite likely a reflection of the time faculty invest in [IT].” Younger faculty are the heaviest users and the least stressed out. Most use e-mail, while about a third use the Internet for research or posting or collecting course material. “The engineers were always highest” in tasks done on the computer, says co-author Linda Sax. Physical scientists were also near the top, while biologists were “in the middle,” above humanities scholars.

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