Surf the Web Guilt-Free

A recent study, "Impact of Cyberloafing on Psychological Engagement," found that time spent browsing the Internet had positive results on productivity. Researchers at the National University of Singapore found that people who spent 10 minutes surfing were "significantly more productive and effective at the tasks than those in the other two groups [who did other tasks] and reported lower levels of mental exhaustion, boredom, and higher levels of engagement," as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

CyberloafingThe effects of surfing were better than personal emailing, phone calls, and texting for a 10-minute break.  According to Vivien Lim, one of the study's authors, these tasks are not as restorative because they demand more cognitive attention. But when people surf, they "usually choose to only visit the sites they like -- it's like going for a coffee or a snack break."

This study has important implications for employers. Concerned about lost productivity, some companies restrict employees' online behavior. Perhaps they should relax the standards -- and focus on work outcomes instead.


 Discussion Starters:

  • What do you do when you take a break from work or studying? What do you find most relaxing?
  • On a job, have you surfed the web or done non-work-related tasks online? Did your company or manager frown on this, or was it acceptable for a few minutes?
  • What are the downsides of employers allowing surfing on company time?