'Students addicted to social media': Oh c'mon, this again?

'Students addicted to social media': Oh c'mon, this again?

Summary: A University of Maryland study suggests that students are addicted to online media and social networking. An argument against,

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A study from the University of Maryland suggests that students are addicted to social media and networking, the Internet and mobile phones, showing similar symptoms to that of drug or alcohol dependency.

What utter tosh.

200 students were asked to give up all areas of media access for one day and afterwards, measured for symptoms of addiction through withdrawal, cravings and a struggle to function at usual capacity.

Just under half of these students had a smartphone, such as a BlackBerry or iPhone, capable of application enhancement. Also, students were stated to be able to live without television and print media but "can't survive without their iPod's", and the undergraduate students are "constantly texting and are on Facebook".

Now don't get me wrong. As a young academic and prominent iGeneration figure, I can not only see both sides of the research argument but also be in a relatively strong position to critically analyse research for flaws and issues; whilst respecting the findings as an academic outcome. If I'm honest, the methodology used is pretty rock solid, with only one yet crucial factor in that the results are interpreted by researchers through qualitative data collection and discourse analysis.

As Reuters points out, the American Psychiatric Association doesn't recognise "Internet addiction" as a disorder. I disagree with this, but addiction is difficult at best to pin point. It's almost as pointless as attempting to define specific, undisputed symptoms for autistic spectrum disorder.

Everybody shows different signs and symptoms of addiction. I should know; I was hooked on painkillers for a year and a half.

There is no denying certain parts of the research, in particular what was described by the students undergoing web withdrawal, including symptoms such as:

"In withdrawal, Frantically craving, Very anxious, Extremely antsy, Miserable, Jittery, Crazy.”

However, the interpretations of actions and reactions of students and Generation Y'ers by researchers outside the age scale, and part of the older Generation X, are just that: interpretations.

In the past I have flippantly written about addiction. Today in all seriousness, the term "addiction" is banded around without thought or conviction.

I defend to the highest possible level that today's youth are not addicted to social media and networking, the web and online media. We do spend far more time on Facebook and accessing the web for leisure use and socialising but that is part of the natural progression of tertiary, non-compulsory education socialisation.

Just because we may refer to technology as a means to an end does not negate the other non-technological knowledge we have. We as a generation are used to, in fact, brought up on technology thrust upon us by schools and home computing. Addiction becomes an issue when it has a negative effect on the individual or other people. Different routes are taken each time we socialise; a Facebook message versus a phone call for example, one may be more efficient but secondary and tertiary allowances are still there to fall back on to should other methods fail to yield a result.

The Generation Y and students generally should not be considered as "addicted" to the web. We still possess the ability to visit others in person and engage with them in a verbal and physical capacity.

Maybe we should concern ourselves with the younger Generation Z and their online activity and social tendencies. If the fate of future generations rests in their hands and they resort to "poking" each other on Facebook as a means of engaging of reproductive coitus, that's when we're screwed. Until then, can we drop the "addiction" non-issue?

Topic: Social Enterprise

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  • I admit...

    ...that perhaps 'addiction' isn't the best word
    here, but there's something to this, I see it
    every day, (and guess we all do, if we're not
    doing it ourselves). People and their connected
    gadgets, phones with a billion apps, and all
    kinds of whiz-bang toys, but I watch these same
    friends use these virtual timewasters, and
    realize that, with the exception of occasional
    texting, they really aren't doing much with
    them other than showing them off, or playing
    games or trying to watch movies on those tiny
    screens.

    Seems to me they'd be better off with a PSP or
    something. Don't get me wrong here, I'm a
    computer junkie myself, I love my PC, and spend
    way more time on it than is healthy I'm
    certain. I am in no position to cast stones
    here. However, what I'm seeing is people who
    seem to be unable to function, people who will
    go to extreme lengths, friends who are unable
    to keep their bills paid, just to keep their
    fancy phone full of stuff they could just do
    faster when they got home on their PC.

    I realize this isn't just to do with phones and
    gadgets, but most seem to be using the gadgets
    to stay connected to their social pages,
    Facebook, what have you, but the two do seem to
    go well together.

    Hence, I say there is definitely something to
    this. For the record, I'm near 50 years old,
    and have friends in their 40's who show the
    same signs of....obsession...as the younger
    folks.

    And that's probably the word the article should
    use. Obsession.
    KOS-MOS
    • RE: 'Students addicted to social media': Oh c'mon, this again?

      @KOS-MOS I don't think it's so much people trying to show off their mobile devices, but rather as you say they're obsessed. I like to call it being "wired in" - whether it's checking their social media, searching/playing apps, texting, etc. It's become part of the Gen Y culture and catching on with the older one's as well. As someone who has worked at <a href="http://www.non12step-rehabs.org/longterm-drug-rehab.html" rel="dofollow">non 12 step drug rehabs</a> habitual behaviors like being glued to your mobile device has more to do with obsessiveness than addiction. Medically speaking addiction, which is a chemical dependency, is completely different, though it's safe to say the author meant it in the figurative sense.
      richrollins
  • Agreed!

    If they are really showing similar symptoms, their would be disastrous real life consequences.

    That is the hallmark of alcohol and drug dependency. Disaster.

    Even if they have cravings and are said to not function at usual capacity, that is quantitatively different that the catastrophe of real addiction.

    Words can be broadly applied so that they lose their meaning. Now go back to being your usual "lady killer" Zack, and by that I mean "internet addiction" and "drug addiction" are nearly as different as a real lady killer and a real lady killer. You know the difference.
    javajunkie@...
    • Your clinical expertise is overwhelming../s

      Some, but not all addiction is catastrophic. Case in point is cigarette addiction. Millions of people are addicted to cigarettes and experience withdrawal symptoms when removed from them. That is what this study was all about. It was not to study the disastrous effects of specific addictions.
      alwin3413
      • clinical expertise not necessary

        You are shifting the sands and not being consistent.

        addiction != "showing similar symptoms to that of drug or alcohol dependency"

        For you to say they are the same is to say a lady killer who kills ladies is the same as a lady killer who gets lucky perhaps more often than people think he should.

        For you to assert that cigarette addiction and alcohol and drug addiction have the same symptoms is meaningless.

        So what, internet and cigarette addicts feel "crazy". You think that is the same as a crack addict's "crazy".

        It's crazy to say that.

        It's like in sports when someone is murdering someone out there. Ok I get your point and maybe the coach needs to do something but ...

        cigarette crazy != crack crazy
        internet crazy != crack crazy
        love crazy ?= crack crazy (you are right, I don't know so much)
        javajunkie@...
      • one more thing on your "clinical expertise" comment

        Using your brain you can see that symptoms both indicate and are a result.

        A fever could indicate a bacterial infection. A fever may result from bacterial infection.

        What I am saying is that you need to consider the degree of the fever.

        You are saying we are not counting how many people died from the fever.

        All fevers are not equal and low fevers will not cause brain damage.

        You and the article are trying to say all fevers, or addiction feelings, are the same when clearly they are not.

        That this study is suggesting that all feelings of addiction don't need to be measured as to intensity is questionable, and so to compare them to drug addiction is not a valid comparison.

        Try that clinical experience on for size and get back to me in the morning.
        javajunkie@...
  • It can interfere with other activities.

    Well, regardless of whether you call it an "addiction"
    or not, it can get bad enough to interfere with the
    rest of life.

    It's entirely possible for people to spend so much
    time on a social networking site that it may take the
    place of other activities. If it gets bad enough, it
    could take the place of vital activities like, say,
    working.

    Call it what you like, but it's not impossible for it
    to interfere with the rest of life.
    CobraA1
    • but let's not stop there.

      Let's call everything that interferes with work an
      addiction. Hobbies, sports, families, children,
      sleep, hunger...
      tkejlboom
      • Google 'interfere'

        All the actions you list should share time with work, not interfere with it. If your children, eating, family, hobbies actually INTERFERE with work, then you ARE having problems.

        Getting home from work and logging into FB for an hour does not interfere with work. Each has its own place. It interferes when one begins encroaching on the other's allotted time - when you run late to work (or class) because you can't stop refreshing fb/e-mail or clicking news links. When this occurs occasionally it's a time-management issue. When it's a constant occurrence it could fall into the realm of addiction.

        Of course, it would be difficult to measure that as, when a person is late to work because they are busy online is it because they are addicted to the net and couldn't go to work if they wanted to, or do they just not want to go to work?
        kymac
  • I suggest you to use 'Digital Natives' instead of 'Generation Z'

    Not only it digital nativeness more relevant to the discussion than the date of birth but 'Generation Z' sounds awful, makes it sound like it's the end.
    Great Kahuna
    • lol...

      way to take political correctness to a level I didn't know could be reached. Digital Native Generation? That's the most self-indulgent nonsense I have ever heard....

      I suggest you get a life....
      alwin3413
  • RE: 'Students addicted to social media': Oh c'mon, this again?

    "As a young academic and prominent iGeneration figure, I can not only see both sides of the research argument but also be in a relatively strong position to critically analyse research for flaws and issues; whilst respecting the findings as an academic outcome."

    Wow, you really think highly of yourself, Zack! Academic, prominent, whilst!

    Apparently spell-check and grammar doesn't work into your credentials. My copy and paste directly from your story looks like a crime scene. I almost threw up at several points from errors.

    If you have any real clinical research experience I am sure that you would have listed with your other credentials, so since you didn't list it, I will assume you have none. So what is your strong position? That you are very much entrenched in technology? That you are part of the generation they are studying?

    Making yourself sound like a "peer" reviewing clinical data borders on irresponsible. I have read some of your other articles and have found them to be self-indulgent as well. Get over yourself.
    alwin3413
  • I don't know if it is addictive but ...

    I think that social media is the next step to socializing. Can you go an entire day with out talking to anyone, being completely isolated from the outside world (except for maybe TV)? I think most of us would say no.

    Social media is the next step to socializing face to face or on the phone, just like the phone is the next step to face to face communication and email is the next step to mail.

    I do not know if social media is addicting, but if it is then there should also be a study to see if we are addicted to old fashion socializing.
    CPPCrispy
    • thoughts

      "I think that social media is the next step to
      socializing. Can you go an entire day with out
      talking to anyone, being completely isolated
      from the outside world (except for maybe TV)?"

      Yes.

      And actually, anybody can. People may hate not
      having it, but going without it isn't life
      threatening.

      That being said, it helps to be an introvert.
      An extrovert wouldn't handle it as well.

      But it's still possible.

      "Social media is the next step to socializing
      face to face or on the phone, just like the
      phone is the next step to face to face
      communication and email is the next step to
      mail."

      "next step"?

      "I do not know if social media is addicting,
      but if it is then there should also be a study
      to see if we are addicted to old fashion
      socializing."

      The issue isn't really socializing itself, but
      rather how it may interfere with other
      activities.

      Before all of our electronics popped up, the
      most socializing you probably did was with
      coworkers, and as long as your hands kept
      moving while you were talking, the boss
      probably didn't care.

      Fast forward to today, where you can socialize
      pretty much any time with any number of people
      on any number of devices. Your cursor can be in
      only one text field at a time, and you can
      spend a lot of time typing in places that have
      no relevance to your job.

      Typing while working is far less effective than
      talking while working, especially if it's a job
      that requires you to use your hands.

      Another issue also seems to be cultural: Our
      society today seems to be far more accepting of
      doing non-work stuff while at work than it was
      years ago. That also can affect our
      productivity.

      It also appears that things like ADHD are more
      widespread today than they were in the past.
      What exactly is to blame for this is a huge
      debate, but social media isn't really helping
      this.
      CobraA1
  • Call it what you want but,

    it is a problem for some people. My 17 year old daughter can't pull herself away from Facebook long enough to get her homework done. I have to block it, until she's done. She has no idea how much it distracts her, or how much of her time it consumes.

    Here at work we don't block it, but we have had to let a few people go that couldn't control themselves. They got warnings, they got internet usage reports that showed how much time they were wasting, and were warned of the consequences if they didn't change their ways. They couldn't resist the temptation...
    StillLearnin
    • Its just like an addiction

      My 13 year old son will complain that he is hungry and then allow his dinner to go stone cold because he cannot break away from his session on the PC. He will do his homework at 2am because he has no idea how long he has been online. By that time I am fast asleep in the lounge so only know when he wakes me. Anything that interferes with normal life to my mind is an addiction
      eric.rendel@...
  • RE: 'Students addicted to social media': Oh c'mon, this again?

    Well at least they are not wasting their time playing
    World of Warcraft all day like I am. LOL
    darkgunnerds
  • RE: 'Students addicted to social media': Oh c'mon, this again?

    I agree that Generation Z-ers may have issues
    with face to face communication
    skills as they get older. Here is the new book,
    "Facebook
    Addiction: The Life & Times of Social
    Networking
    Addicts."
    Amazon Reviews:
    http://www.TheFacebookAddiction.com/links/retai
    l/amazon
    Press:
    http://www.TheFacebookAddiction.com/links/press
    More Info: http://www.TheFacebookAddiction.com
    IceCreamMelts
  • RE: 'Students addicted to social media': Oh c'mon, this again?

    I need it, MAN! Give me my Facebook! Just this once! I can stop any time I want...
    glassangel
  • ADHD

    I just have this to say about tha

    Hang on, I just got some new email ...
    Bruce Walker