U.S. students suffering from Internet addiction: study

NEW YORK Fri Apr 23, 2010 4:17pm EDT

High school students play the ''America's Army'' video game during engagement skills training at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York June 19, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Segar

High school students play the ''America's Army'' video game during engagement skills training at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York June 19, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

Related Topics

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Crackberry is no joke.

American college students are hooked on cellphones, social media and the Internet and showing symptoms similar to drug and alcohol addictions, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Maryland who asked 200 students to give up all media for one full day found that after 24 hours many showed signs of withdrawal, craving and anxiety along with an inability to function well without their media and social links.

Susan Moeller, the study's project director and a journalism professor at the university, said many students wrote about how they hated losing their media connections, which some equated to going without friends and family.

"I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening," said one student. "Between having a Blackberry, a laptop, a television, and an iPod, people have become unable to shed their media skin."

Moeller said students complained most about their need to use text messages, instant messages, e-mail and Facebook.

"Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort," wrote one of the students, who blogged about their reactions. "When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life."

Few students reported watching TV news or reading a newspaper.

The American Psychiatric Association does not recognize so-called Internet addiction as a disorder.

But it seems to be an affliction of modern life. In one extreme example in South Korea reported by the media, a couple allegedly neglected their three-month-old daughter, who died of malnutrition, because they were on the computer for up to 12 hours a day raising a virtual child.

In the United States a small private U.S. center called ReSTART, located near Redmond, Washington, opened last year in the shadow of computer giant Microsoft to treat excessive use of the Internet, video gaming and texting.

The center's website cites various examples of students who ran up large debts or dropped out of college due to their obsession.

Students in the Maryland study also showed no loyalty to news programs, a news personality or news platform. They maintained a casual relationship to news brands, and rarely distinguished between news and general information.

"They care about what is going on among their friends and families and even in the world at large," said Ph.D. student Raymond McCaffrey who worked on the study. Loyalty "does not seemed tied to any single device or application or news outlet."

(Reporting by Walden Siew; Editing by Patricia Reaney)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (12)
Kovadis wrote:
I think that this shows the disconnect that the young American adults have with the rest of the world. They still feel a large level of distrust when it comes to the majority of “serious” news platforms, since they are largely used to push “spin” on all of us. The amount of information that we have available is great, but how come it doesn’t come off as genuine? So they settle for the goings on of their circle of friends and family because of the comfort

Apr 23, 2010 5:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
LLegel wrote:
The next generation is addicted to more-efficient communication technologies, which cultivate friendships and provide faster access to more information. I’m shocked.

As a “U.S. student suffering from Internet addiction”, I thank Reuters for exposing how troubling my lifestyle is. I need serious help, fast. Any instructional websites on this problem?

Seriously… “But it seems to be an affliction of modern life” is a perception falsely supported by connecting non-causal variables: Internet use and human decency, for one.

Respectfully, I understand this is news for some. But perhaps Mr. Walden Siew did not care to justify the school of thought being studied… My generation is empowered by technology, like every generation before. It is hypocritical to frame us in the light of this article.

Apr 23, 2010 6:04pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
the Internet has taken 3 hours per day of television watching on average from ten years ago

Apr 23, 2010 6:35pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.