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BizReport : Research archives : April 26, 2010

Disconnected teens suffer anxiety, withdrawal

While the American Psychiatric Association does not recognize Internet addiction as a disorder, there are certainly signs that there are real and distressing symptoms resulting from a loss of digital social connection.

by Helen Leggatt

Symptoms akin to those suffered by drug addicts in withdrawal were reported by American college students when starved of their social links. The study, called "24 Hours: Unplugged", was conducted on 200 students aged 18 to 21 and required them to abstain from using all media for a day.

Whether it be by mobile or Internet, one full day of being disconnected from their social media and links left many with symptoms of anxiety, craving and withdrawal, found researchers at the University of Maryland.

Some also said they felt impaired functioning without normal access to their media sources.

One student said that they clearly were addicted and found the dependency "sickening" while another said they felt "alone and secluded".

"We were surprised by how many students admitted that they were 'incredibly addicted' to media," said project director, journalism professor and ICMPA director, Susan D. Moeller, University of Maryland. "Most college students are not just unwilling, but functionally unable to be without their media links to the world."

In some countries, such as China and the U.K., Internet addiction has become such a public health issue that clinics have been set up specifically for treating the condition.

Tags: addiction, Internet, media, social media

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