The social media studies have spoken and one thing is clear: we crave connection.
According to one study, Americans have the urge to check their smartphones every hour. And research from the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, fully published online this April, shed some light on just how much we long for tweets and status updates. The study collected data from 205 adults in Germany, who supplied "7,827 reports of their desires over the course of a week," and suggested that our social media may have a stronger pull on us than cigarettes. While every individual holds a different level of attachment to the internet, the highest rate of "self-control failures" was linked to social media websites, per The Guardian.
But does social media really sink its hooks into people more than addictive substances like nicotine? We've compiled six activities (or products) that are ostensibly easier to resist than social media. Do you buy it? Are you devoted to the constant ping of your phone, yearn for Facebook notifications and concerned you might be hooked on social media services? Let us know in the comments section, or tweet us at @HuffPostTech.
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/feb/03/twitter-resist-cigarettes-alcohol-study" target="_hplink">The Guardian</a> reports "tweeting or checking email may be harder to resist" than alcohol, among other substances. In one test conducted by Wilhelm Hofmann of <a href="http://pss.sagepub.com/content/23/6/582.abstract" target="_hplink">the University of Chicago,</a> researchers found that users' desire to check their phones was stronger than the urge to grab a drink. Researchers also found "that as the day wore on, willpower became lower" when attempting to avoid a smartphone.
In the same <a href="http://pss.sagepub.com/content/23/6/582.abstract" target="_hplink">University of Chicago study,</a> social media was also found to be "more addictive" than cigarettes. <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2012/02/03/facebook-more-addictive-than-cigarettes-study-says/" target="_hplink">Forbes writes</a>: <blockquote>It's a feeling we're all familiar with -- that we'll just sign on, check Facebook, check Twitter, see what's there. The little buildup of tension when the loading screen starts to go, the little release when it jumps and the page loads. It's a quick, easy fix unlikely to give you liver disease or lung cancer, one of the reasons that the addiction may be so much more pervasive than traditionally harmful pastimes.</blockquote> "With cigarettes and alcohol there are more costs -- long-term as well as monetary -- and the opportunity may not always be the right one," Hofman, the researcher who conducted the study, <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/feb/03/twitter-resist-cigarettes-alcohol-study" target="_hplink">told The Guardian</a>. "So, even though giving in to media desires is certainly less consequential, the frequent use may still 'steal' a lot of people's time."
While the urge for sex may still be stronger, participants in the University of Chicago study had little willpower over their social media needs. <a href="http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2012/01/27/study-finds-lure-entertainment-work-hard-people-resist" target="_hplink">The University of Chicago News notes,</a> "Desires for sleep and sex were the strongest, while desires for media and work proved the hardest to resist."
Talking Out Loud
Using the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/02/smartphone-usage-stats_n_1643761.html?utm_hp_ref=technology" target="_hplink">"phone" function to talk on on smartphones has increasingly been taking a back seat</a> to Facebook-ing, tweeting, checking-in, and the like. Chitchatting on the phone after school doesn't happen often for today's younger generations. In a study involving over 1,000 13- to 17-year-olds, Facebook "dominated teens, with seven out of 10 people surveyed saying they have an account," <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-tech/post/many-teens-tell-survey-theyre-addicted-to-social-media-texting/2012/06/25/gJQAvZc72V_blog.html" target="_hplink">per The Washington Post.</a> The study also found that only 4 percent of the participants prefer to use the telephone as a method of communication. So maybe we still don't know much about how addictive phone calls are relative to social media -- but we do know they're a whole lot less popular.
<a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/08/technology-addiction-chocolate-caffeine.html" target="_hplink">The LA Times</a> reports that 55 percent of Americans polled in a survey said caffeine was less crucial to them than access to social media: <blockquote> More than half of Americans would rather give up chocolate, alcohol and caffeine for a week before parting temporarily with their phones, according to a <a href="http://www.telenav.com/about/pr-summer-travel/report-20110803.html" target="_hplink">recent survey</a> by technology firm TeleNav.</blockquote>
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/mediamonkeyblog/2008/jan/10/facebookmoreaddictivethanp" target="_hplink">The Guardian reports</a> that a panel at a Citigroup conference in 2008 discussed an interesting correlation between high Facebook usage and low web traffic for adult websites: <blockquote>While causation is a tricky burden to prove, the theory goes that young people are too busy social networking to get, er... distracted by adult online content. Apparently when Facebook had server problems last year there was a corresponding spike up of users returning to look at adult content.</blockquote>
Gillmor Gang on Social Media
The Gillmor Gang discuss the progress and power of social media.