Crackberry is no joke. American college students are hooked on cellphones, social media and the Internet and showing symptoms similar to drug and alcohol addictions, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Maryland, who asked 200 students to give up all media for one full day, found that after 24 hours many showed signs of withdrawal, craving and anxiety, along with an inability to function well without their media and social links.
Susan Moeller, the study’s project director and a journalism professor at the university, said many students wrote about how they hated losing their media connections, which some equated to going without friends and family.
Moeller said students complained most about their need to use text messages, instant messages, email and Facebook. “Sending text and instant messages to my friends give me a constant feeling of comfort,” wrote one of the students, who blogged about their reactions. “When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and seducted from my life.”
Few students reported watching TV news or reading a newspaper.
The American Psychiatric Association does not recognize so-called Internet addiction as a disorder.
But it seems to be afflictions of modern life. In one extreme example in South Korea, a couple allegedly neglected their three-month old daughter, who died of malnutrition, because they were on the computer for up to 12 hours a day, raising a virtual child.
In the US, a small private centre called ReSTART, located near Redmond, Washington, opened last year in the shadow of computer giant Microsoft to treat excessive use of the Internet, video gaming and texting.
The centre’s website cites various examples of students who ran up large debts or dropped out of college due to their obsession.
Students in the Maryland study also showed no loyalty to news programmes, a news personality or news platform. They maintained a casual relationship to news brands, and rarely distinguished between news and general information.