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7.20 The Dark Side: Hooked on Social Media? (Obj. 5)

Could you give up your electronic toys for 24 hours without “withdrawal symptoms”? Would you be able to survive a full day unplugged from all media? A class of 200 students at the University of Maryland, College Park, went media free for 24 hours and then blogged about the experience.85

Some sounded like addicts going cold turkey: In withdrawal. Frantically craving. Very anxious. Extremely antsy. Miserable. Jittery.  Crazy. One student lamented: I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening. In the absence of technology that anchors them to friends and family, students felt bored and isolated. One wrote: I felt quite alone and secluded from my life. Although I go to a school with thousands of students, the fact that I was not able to communicate with anyone via technology was almost unbearable.

The study reveals a paradigm shift in human interaction. A completely digital generation is viscerally wedded to electronic toys, so much so that technology has become an indispensable part of the young people’s lives.

Perceived advantages (duh?): Electronically abstinent students stated that they spent more time on course work, took better notes, and were more focused. As a result, they said they learned more and became more productive. They also reported that they spent more time with loved ones and friends face-to-face. Life slowed down and the day seemed much longer to some.



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