Thursday, April 21, 2011

Students challenged to 24 hours cold-turkey admit, 'We're addicted to media': study

Dan Kitwood/Getty; Business Wire; Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

A recent study by the International Center for Media & the Public Affairs revealed that media users around the world see their habits as an addiction.

The World Unplugged study asked nearly 1,000 students in 10 countries to forego all electronic media - from texting to email, Facebook and TV - for a full 24 hours.

According to the study, dependence on technology is so great that a majority of students failed to complete the challenge.

And for the second year in a row, U.S. subjects responded to the study using “literally the same terms associated with drug and alcohol addictions to describe their reactions to going without media for 24 hours,” according to the study’s website.

“I made it until about 8 p.m., when ‘Monday Night Football’ came on TV, and I just couldn’t resist ... I felt like a drug addict, tweaking for a taste of information,” wrote one student surveyed.

The World Unplugged expands upon a study conducted in 2010 by researchers at the University of Maryland-College Park, which asked 200 students to go without media for a day. This new study, conducted by the ICMPA in partnership with the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change, found that all students in the 10 countries had almost identical reactions to the challenge.

Around the world, students expressed feelings of addiction, boredom, confusion, distress, and isolation in response to the study.

One student of Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, wrote, “It was not an easy experience because I felt I was in a kind of another world - left out.”

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