The University of Maryland did a study to prove what most of us already know: teenagers are hooked to the internet and their tech devices. The study was conducted by the International Center for Media and Public Affairs and included 2,000 participants. The participants were all students at colleges and universities all over the world. Countries included China, the United States, Argentina, Chile, Lebanon, Mexico, Slovakia, Uganda, and the United Kingdom. The students were asked to refrain from using their cell phone, gadgets, social media and the internet for an entire day or 24 hour period. The students were then asked to share how they felt about their time without the internet. Students from the varying continents seamed to share the same sentiments during their experience. They all seemed to dread being cut off from the world in this way.
Most of the student couldn’t tolerate being removed from their regular social media infused environment for just one day. Participants in China and the United States appeared to be the most affected. Many of the students from these countries compared their experience to being a drug addict without their normal fix. Signs of withdrawal occurred, particularly feelings of distress, confusion, anxiety, jealousy and hostility. After just one day without the internet, students began to go haywire and panic. Despite knowing that they would be able to enjoy their usual gadgets again, the students became jealous of their peers who had access to the web. Some students were so bent out of shape about it that they began to question the meaning of life.
While I think the reactions of the students are slightly absurd, I really can’t blame them for feeling that sense of withdrawal. They were just responding in a way that any drug addicted person would. I know the internet isn’t a controlled substance, but it is highly abused and depended upon by everyone. Most people start and end their day with the internet. This is just the way that society and culture has developed over the past few decades. Now that social media has been thrown into the mix, there is even more dependency. No one wants to become unplugged from the people they care about the most. No one wants to be out of the loop about what is going on in the world.
If having an iPad and smartphone are what these students need to make it through the day, you can hardly blame them. The world has become very technologically based and each person now has a vested interest in keeping technology going. In a few decades, people asked to participate in this kind of survey won’t be able to last an hour. I hate to say it, but down the road people may take drastic measures if they are separated from the devices that keep them so connected. The University of Maryland only chose to highlight students. In a few years more age groups will feel the same way. This is only the beginning.