A new study by the University of Marylandconfirms what we all know to be true: Social Media can be addictive, especially with younger folks. The study reports that after just 24 hours of having their social media removed (ie. cell phones and Internet), students felt “anxious, miserable, jittery, crazy, and they had “cravings for their tech tools.” These symptoms are similar to the withdrawal symptoms of an alcoholic.
“Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort. 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.” – One student’s response to the study
I’m in my early 40s, so I am very comfortable with technology, but remember a life before email? And, as much as I love Social Media as a strategic tool for businesses and as a way to keep in touch with colleagues and friends, I quickly recognized the social risks.
Social Media allows for more frequent and immediate sharing of thoughts and opinions, but I do not believe it can replace good, old-fashioned face-to-face conversation. We are training a generation of people to “talk” in a way that is less substantive, less thoughtful, and less meaningful. Great relationships are forged by experience and life sharing, not Facebook, Twitter, or even email.
For this reason, I try to shut off electronically every day once the work day is over. I might come back on in the evening, but I try consciously to stay away from electronic stimulation for good chunks of the day. And, I might even go a full 48 hours on the weekend without any electronic media. Are you like me or are you addicted?