What would you do if you didn’t have Internet access for 48 hours? How would you act if your smartphone wasn’t available for an entire weekend? A new British study has found that out of 1,000 participants, 50% of people felt lonely and lost without Internet access. This study shouldn’t come as a surprise to people who obsessively check their smartphones (you know who you are).
From Facebook to Twitter and now Google Plus, there’s something instantly gratifying about knowing what’s going on in your world. But, how much is too much? Is social media truly addicting? If so, do we only have ourselves to blame? The aforementioned study reveals more about the growing social media habit than most people would like to know.
Social Media Is Life
Think about how much time you spend socializing online. Most of us check our social media accounts at least ten times per day. Social media drive the way we think, interact, and communicate with those people around us – or, those people who live far away from us. The strange thing about social media is that many of our connections are people we haven’t spoken to in years – worse, people we’ve never spoken to.
Yet, as the study suggests, we have come to build virtual relationships with our social media contacts. Knowing what someone is thinking, doing, and feeling at all times of the day keeps us connected to the outside world. Social media addiction is a growing habit for sure, but is it a healthy habit?
As Serious As a Drug Addiction
Researchers from the University of Maryland conducted a study earlier this year. Gathering hundreds of students from colleges across the world, these participants were not allowed to use any electronic device for 24 hours. To make matters more difficult for the students, newspapers were not allowed either. All communication with the outside world was suspended.
During these 24 hours, the students recorded their feelings in diaries. Researchers found that many participants experienced depression, anxiety, and some even had physical withdrawal symptoms comparable to the withdrawal symptoms experienced by drug addicts and alcoholics. This has prompted many within the medical community to become concerned.
Recognizing an Addiction
A social media addiction may seem laughable, but the notion of an alcohol, smoking, or drug addiction was once laughable as well. At some point in history, it was perfectly acceptable to do drugs, drink like a fish around the clock, and smoke without concern. As soon as these habits were termed “addictions” help groups and clinics popped up.
Presently, there are no social media help groups. No clinics where people have to check their smartphones at the door exist. But, that doesn’t mean that a social media addiction isn’t real. Try leaving your smartphone behind for one weekend. During that time, don’t use any computers or other devices. Then, see how you react. If you feel like your “hand has been cut off” after leaving your smartphone behind for one day, it might be time to seek help.