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Study Reveals Serious Internet Addiction Among College Students

If the study of 200 students at the University of Maryland is representative of student behavior nationwide, college students are seriously addicted to their media -- their cell phones, iPods, computers, and other means of communication with the world. 

The students blogged about their experiences after a 24-hour media abstinence period, writing a total of 110,000 words, or the equivalent a full 400-page book about their experiences. The "Wordle" below is a data visualization of the words used in the entire body of student work; the larger the word appears, the more frequently it was used.

 

"Wordle" on 110,000 words students wrote about their experience: Phillip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland"Wordle" on 110,000 words students wrote about their experience: Phillip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland

 

The Wordle below represents the words used to describe the students' feelings during the 24-hour restriction from all media, the same terms associated with drug and alcohol addition - withdrawal, frantically craving, very anxious, antsy, miserable, jittery, crazy...  Others said they were lonely, sad, alone, secluded, isolated...

 

 "Wordle": Phillip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland"Wordle": Phillip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland

 

The conclusions of this study are not only relevant to the mental health of young persons addicted to their portable media, but for the news media and the educational and social implications of this dependence on the future.

The top 5 highlights of the investigation, according to the study conclusions were:

1. Students use literal terms of addition to characterize their dependence on media.

2. Students hate going without media.  In their world, going without media, means going without their friends and family.

3. Students show no significant loyalty to a news program, news personality or even news platform.  Students have only a casual relationship to the originators of news, and in fact don’t make fine distinctions between news and more personal information. They get news in a disaggregated way, often via friends.

4.  18-21 year old college students are constantly texting and on Facebook—with calling and email distant seconds as ways of staying in touch, especially with friends.

5. Students could live without their TVs and the newspaper, but they can’t survive without their iPods.

The 200 students were in one class, Media Literacy, a required course for all university students. It was a relatively small population of students - 200 - but it was representative of the University of Maryland's College Park campus, located in the suburbs of Washington, D.C, with a demographically diverse population, similar to those in or near other large U.S. cities.  

 

The study methodology and conclusions are described in full at A Day Without Media.  It is a highly relevant document for parents, students, educators, social scientists, and the news media.

 

 

Comments
Apr 27, 2010
by Anonymous

dependence on mass media

Dependence on mass media has been the goal of anyone who seeks to control groups of people or society as a whole (ie business leaders, investors, government officials), looks like they've achieved that.

At least I had the benefit of growing up on the fringe of all this craziness so I'm loving the benefits but can live without 'em-I used to rely on napster and IRC for finding what little music was available, cell phones were a necessity but not texting, you kept up with people on AIM-your profile was essentially your 'facebook', vid games were just starting to come out well in 3 dimensions, Technology was there, but it was more of a luxury than a necessity, I still have close friends who have never had a cell phone nor a desire to use one. Text messaging is disabled on my phone-if you can't take the time to call me it's probably not important enough to deserve my attention.

News is viral and Yellow Journalism has taken over major media outlets like it's the start of the 20th century all over again. Journalists and bloggers have no responsibility whatsoever to even try to provide factual, unbiased accounts. Wikipedia is considered by a lot of people to be totally accurate and okay to use as a source of fact.

Unfortunately, this technology serves to disconnect us from reality, I'm hoping the younger generation doesn't get totally destroyed by it.

Apr 27, 2010
by Anonymous

There is a cure . . .

Cyanide