BlackBerrys really are addictive, <br>says researcher

Employers could face legal action for requiring workers to use the devices

The BlackBerry, the mobile all-in-one electronic device, deserves the nickname 'CrackBerry,' according to a United States researcher.

The smart phones, a combination cellphone, e-mail and web browser, made by Waterloo, Ont.-based Research in Motion, can be highly addictive and damaging to the employees who use them, said Gayle Porter, an associate professor of management at the Rutgers University School of Business in New Jersey.

Porter predicts American employees who can't keep their BlackBerry use within reasonable parameters, to the point where it begins to affect their personal lives, will eventually sue employers that require workers to use a BlackBerry.

However, Canada is a less litigious country and employees are likely to go a different route. A Canadian employee who is forcibly connected to the office 24/7 could claim the BlackBerry contributed to unfair working conditions and could get disability insurance or qualify for employment insurance, according to Deb Johnstone of the Canadian Institute of Management.

Johnstone told Montreal newspaper the Gazette that she doesn't see overzealous BlackBerry use as an addiction, but rather that it has added to job-related stress.

It's hard for an employee to have work-life balance when he's connected to work 24/7 by a BlackBerry or other mobile device, she said.

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