College Students Addicted To Social Media

April 28, 2010

text messagingAccording to a new study, college students are addicted to cell phones, social media and the Internet and even experience the same withdrawal symptoms as substance abuse addicts do.

The study, titled "24 Hours: Unplugged" is based on the experiences of 200 students at the University of Maryland at College Park who were asked to give up all social media for 24 hours, including text messaging, e-mail, iPhones, Twitter and Facebook. The research was conducted by the university's International Center for Media & the Public Agenda in late February and early March.

"We were surprised by how many students admitted that they were 'incredibly addicted' to media," said Susan D. Moeller, a journalism professor and director of the center, who was quoted by the New York Daily News. "But we noticed that what they wrote at length about was how they hated losing their personal connections. Going without media meant, in their world, going without their friends and family."

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 report pointed out that while students were interested in news, they relied on a broad range of sources. "They care about what is going on among their friends and families and even in the world at large," explained researcher Raymond McCaffrey, who worked on the study and was quoted in The Washington Post. "But most of all they care about being cut off from that instantaneous flow of information that comes from all sides and does not seem tied to any single device or application or news outlet."

The authors of the study concluded that "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."

Compiled by Staff


A Day Without Media: Research Conducted by ICMPA and Students at the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park, USA, April 2010

"College Students Are 'Addicted' to Social Media and Even Experience Withdrawal Symptoms from It," New York Daily News, April 27, 2010, Rosemary Black

"Fighting a Social Media Addiction," The Washington Post, April 26, 2010, Jenna Johnson

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