According to a new study, American college students are addicted to social media and the Internet and even experience the same withdrawal symptoms as substance abuse addicts do.
When the students in the University of Maryland research were asked to give up all media for a day – and that included their laptops and BlackBerrys as well as iPods and television – they reported feeling anxious, miserable, jittery and antsy.
For the research, titled “24 Hours: Unplugged,” 200 students at the University of Maryland’s College Park Campus blogged about their experiences after a day of giving up all social media. The contents of their blogging resulted in 110,000 words – enough to fill a 400-page novel, according to LiveScience.com.
Students who participated in the study said that abstaining from social media made them feel anxious, jittery, antsy and miserable. “Texting and IMing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort,” said one student. “When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life. Although I go to a school with thousands of students, the fact that I was not able to communicate with anyone via technology was almost unbearable.”
The students missed their MP3 players and TV, but said they most missed text messaging, instant messaging, e-mail, phone calls and Facebook.
The authors of the study concluded “the portability of all that media stuff has changed students’ relationship not just to news and information, but to family and friends–it has, in other words, caused them to make different and distinctive social, and arguably moral, decisions.”