Recent study finds social media addictions on the rise: Can you handle being without your phone for one hour?

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Be honest; how many times have your parents gotten angry with you over being on your cellphone too much? How about checking your Facebook newsfeed?

If you haven’t been caught texting at the dinner table yet, you can probably attest to the all-too-familiar feeling of being addicted to your device. Be it Apple or Android, we’ve all been there, and according to a recent study reported by CBC, cell phone and social media obsession is a bigger issue than we originally thought.

You’ve heard about cigarette, alcohol, even sex addictions, but social media? As it turns out, the study found that the latter trumps them all. In fact, smoking and drinking provoked the weakest reactions in the test subjects.

According to the study’s abstract, “desires for sleep and sex were experienced most intensively… [while] desires for media use and work brought about the most self-control failure.” The good news is, addiction to social media isn’t going to affect your health in the way that cigarettes would, but as a student, we all know the repercussions of too much time spent cruising Twitter timelines versus actually working on assignments and essays.

The facts go even further from there: apparently, 60 per cent of Americans couldn’t go an hour without checking their phones. Sound familiar? Try this one on for size: 73 per cent said that they went into panic mode, while 14 per cent said they felt “desperate” when they realized they’d misplaced them.

First year student Melanie Clark feels like she’s “out of the loop” without her phone in her pocket. “I check it probably every ten minutes,” she says, “I’ve lost [my phone] many times and it’s like I’m missing something in my life!”

It looks like media addiction is taking time away from worldly awareness, too. 30 per cent of the subjects said they had checked their phones while having some sort of meal with another group.

Regardless of how many times we’ve heard the warnings, another statistic states that 24 per cent of them said they had taken a quick look at a message or two behind the wheel of a car. Even more amusing still, 39 per cent admitted to checking their phones in the—ahem—lavatory.

This social media and cell phone attachment goes hand-in-hand with the constant technological booms that have been hitting society, the mind-blowing innovations and the shifting “norm.” Along with the change in technology comes the change in the way we work. We become dependent on our phones and social media outlets, because in a world that’s becoming increasingly connected, it makes sense for the inhabitants to want to be “in the know” as well.

Just like prime time TV was huge for our parents, Facebook, Twitter and good old-fashioned texting have become a large part of our lives. It’s everywhere; internet links, television ads, billboards—you can’t escape the images of those oh-so-popular devices and websites. Naturally, you’re going to want to be a part of that. The study’s head, Wilhelm Hofman suggests that the “short time commitment” that social media requires adds to its popularity as well.

“Notifications” may be another thing fuelling the addiction to social media. That tiny, red number on the Facebook taskbar is enough to send any heart a-flutter. People have actually been known to get little “rushes” when they realise that someone has inboxed them, tweeted them, messaged them… you get the picture.

When time isn’t being spent going through notifications, it’s being spent worried about whether or not the user has received any new ones in the time that they’d been away. Teenagers have been known to get fidgety when kept from their devices and the internet for extended periods of time.

The idea itself may seem harmless, but the addiction to cell phones and social media is exactly that. Yes, there are certain obsessions that are a little less menacing than others, but they are obsessions nonetheless. Check out your “addiction levels” by putting away the phone and computer for one afternoon. Read a book, talk to your family or take a walk outside to see how long you can last without giving into temptation.

Emily is in her fourth year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's a stern black coffee drinker and is a proud Acadienne. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find Emily listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation. If you ask her about parliamentary institutions, she won't stop talking.