Study: Checking social media addiction on par with smoking, drinking

Summary:A new study reveals that checking social media sites on mobile devices has become as addictive as smoking and drinking.

This might come as fairly obvious to some readers...especially those who already experience this. A new study reveals that checking social media sites on mobile devices has become as addictive as smoking and drinking.

The United Kingdom-based research firm Intersperience recently published results from a survey of 1,000 Britons starting as young as age 18 to over 65 about their digital habits.

First, here are some of the key numbers:

  • 53 percent of the respondents felt upset when denied Internet connectivity
  • 40 percent of the respondents felt lonely when they couldn't get online

A more evident point is that younger people had more difficulty giving up social media than older generations. But strikingly, 23 percent of the survey participants actually felt "free" when disconnected.

Here's a glance at some of the participant responses:

Giving up technology was considered by some to be as hard as quitting smoking or drinking, while one survey participant described it as “like having my hand chopped off” and another called it “My biggest nightmare.”

A significant number of people ‘cheated’ by switching on the television or radio as they did not regard them as ‘technology.’ Others agreed to the challenge but turned their mobile phones to silent, regarding being completely disconnected even for one day as “inconceivable.”

Many participants found it extremely hard to resist the temptation to go online, especially those for whom online communication represents a large part of their social interaction.

Personally, I can definitely admit that I can related to the "nightmare" references. Even when I've just forgotten my smartphone at home or work, I feel like I have lost a limb. It's almost silly considering it really is possible to live without a smartphone, or even a cell phone in general.

However, the only obstacles that seem to keep me in check from looking at Foursquare or my email constantly when out and about are lack of service and/or my rather limited data plan.



Topics: Social Enterprise


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider,, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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