I wrote this blog for Platform Magazine’s blog today. When I heard of the 24 hours without media study, my first reaction was to hope I was never asked to do such a study.
I’ve become so dependent on Twitter for news and contact with my friends that I’m almost positive I would crack after the first few hours. Checking Twitter on my iPhone has become so habitual that I’ll check it 2-3 times in less than a minute before I move on to something else. When my computer is open, TweetDeck or Tweetie is always open, and when I don’t constantly receive updates, I refresh the browser to make sure I’m not missing anything.
When I have a busy day at work, or when I’m driving alone from Orlando to Tuscaloosa (an almost unbearable 10-hour drive) and I can’t check Twitter, I honestly feel anxious and feel that there is something wrong. I feel like I’m missing out.
I could relate to the student responses from the study, and I know I’m not the only student who feels this way.
As college students, we throw around the word “addiction” when we’re referring to our BlackBerrys, iPhones, iPods, Facebook and Twitter pages, YouTube and other media; we’re social media “junkies,” and we fall apart when our crops die on Farmville. But, is social media addiction a real sickness? Studies show social media addiction is very real, and students at the University of Maryland, College Park have made the first step to recovery: admitting they’re addicted.
Two hundred students at the university participated in an International Center for Media and the Public Agenda (ICMPA) study accessing the level of media addiction among college students. After 24 hours of media abstinence, students blogged about their experience, their emotions and their failures. Together, the students wrote more than 110,000 words describing their day without media.
The results? We’re addicted. Students described the same emotions that patients addicted to drugs or alcohol use when speaking with a specialist: disconnected, anxious, worried, alone, secluded, cravings and more. Many couldn’t go the full 24 hours without experiencing some type of media.
Read the rest of my post over at the Platform blog.