According to a recent study, students who have had their smartphones taken away from them for even a few hours will begin to suffer from withdrawal symptoms that may rival those of smokers or even drug addicts. The study, which focused on young people aged 17-23 in ten countries around the world found that 79 per cent of students who volunteered for a complete media blackout from cellphones, computers and the internet, social networks and even television experienced reactions ranging from distress to confusion and isolation. Students were allowed to use the phone, read, and even have one on one conversations, but found it difficult initially due to feelings of withdrawal.

“I am an addict. I don’t need alcohol, cocaine or any other derailing form of social depravity,” said one British participant, “Media is my drug; without it I was lost.”

Researchers say the result of the symptoms could be due to the fact that the principal subjects of the study, 17-23 year-olds, have grown up wired and live their lives more online than they do interacting in the real world. So the real world applications of interacting face to face is more foreign to them than engaging online. Many students experienced feelings of confusion, being isolated, and even felt like a failure without their gadgets keeping them plugged in. And many, who have wanted to disengaged from the gadgets that control their lives, fear to do so because of peer pressure, worrying that disconnecting will lead to ostracizing from friends.

But the good news is that students in the study who engaged in one on one conversations during the studies found them to be far more in depth and fulfilling than the chats provided by social media threads. And it’s not surprising considering regular conversations don’t have a 140 character limit and talking face to face actually requires a person to stay attentive. But if one isn’t used to personal interaction, such face to face attention may initially cause insecure feelings. Additionally, personal interaction means a person is far less likely to be blunt or even rude in their reactions, or are less likely to be verbally critical in a conversation.

[via UK Daily Mail]