Study Says College Students Addicted to Social Media

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Now we have a name for it: addiction. Addicted to what? Social media. At least that is the conclusion made from a study published last week.

college studentUniversity of Maryland researchers recently asked students to give up their laptops, iPhones, Blackberry devices and related Internet connecting paraphernalia, quickly discovering that the same types of withdrawals felt by drug users is often felt by people they have labeled “social medial addicts.”

Addictive Behavior

Feelings of anxiety, nervousness, being jittery and acting miserable were some of the observations researchers noted among students who agreed to give up their Internet connection for 24 hours. 200 students at Maryland’s College Park campus participated in “24 Hours: Unplugged,” and were asked to share their findings on a private class blog, outlining their successes and failures in the process.

Susan D. Moeller, an associate journalism professor at the University of Maryland and the director of the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda, said researchers were surprised by the reactions of students who blogged about their experience when their period of abstinence was over. Many students admitted that they were “totally addicted” to social media, describing how much they missed their media connections.

From those observations researchers concluded that students weren’t necessarily missing social media rather the interaction with peers and friends–social ties—forged through this medium.

Notable Quotes

“The students did complain about how boring it was go anywhere and do anything without being plugged into music on their MP3 players,” said Moeller. “And many commented that it was almost impossible to avoid the TVs on in the background at all times in their friends’ rooms. But what they spoke about in the strongest terms was how their lack of access to text messaging, phone calling, instant messaging, email and Facebook, meant that they couldn’t connect with friends who lived close by, much less those far away.”

“Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort,” wrote 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.”

Old Media

The study revealed how far removed students are from calling and emailing friends in a bid to stay in touch, relying on textbook and Facebook to keep them connected. Also telling was the reliance students have on getting their news through sources other than newspapers, cable television shows or radio. Old media is just not something they are familiar with.

Through their social media behavior students have shown that they are not connected to a personality, news program or news platform to get their news. This realization should be heeded by media professionals who have their work cut out for them if are to have any chance of modifying their business model accordingly.

Adv. — Heading off to college this fall? OfftoCollege.com can help you prepare!

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