Study: Students Addicted to Social Media

From February 24th through March 4th, the University of Maryland conducted a study with 200 undergraduate students. During this time period, they were required to be without access to any form of media for a 24-hour period. This study, performed by the university’s International Center for Media & the Public Agenda, posted the results of their study, “24 Hours: Unplugged.”

In this study, media that couldn’t be used consisted of cell phones, iPods, television, car radio, magazines, newspapers, and computers. Afterward, the students were asked to blog about their experiences. Below is a Wordle of those experiences – a visualization of their thoughts:

Some findings:

  • Some students heard phantom rings or felt phantom vibrations when their cell phone was not with them
  • Students “are not just unwilling, but functionally unable to be without their media links to the world.” One student took dramamine so he could sleep through the rest of the 24-hour period.
  • Students are very used to meeting friends on the spur of the moment; this wasn’t possible without media. Many felt lonely and depressed, even though other students surrounded them.
  • Many students felt unsafe in walking to their dorms at night. They hadn’t realized how the cell phones increased their feeling of security.
  • Some didn’t make it through 24 hours.

The study goes on to say that these students showed the same signs as those struggling with substance abuse, e.g., “unbearable” need for media/communication, persistent anxiety, and a “craving for some technology.”

So, here’s my question to you — when was the last time you went technology-less for 24 hours? Maybe we should starting building this into our lives? Kind of like spring cleaning . . .

[from eCampus News, registration required]

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