Archive | April, 2011

Media Addicts

13 Apr

Instead of discussing how college students are talked about and perceived by the media, today I want to talk about the effect of the media on undergraduates.

Apparently, college students are addicts.

Or at least they act like them when it detached from electronic media for 24 hours.

A recent trial conducted at the University of Maryland’s International Center for Media & Public Affiars (ICMPA) and the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change, researched the behavior of students across five continents.

According to Yahoo! News, “What they found is basically this: if you’re under the age of 25, anywhere in the world, you’re likely addicted to some form of media, whether it be Facebook, a smartphone, TV or instant messaging.”

Students described feeling like “crackheads” without their phones, with some even flat out saying that media was a drug to them.

One student from China recalled in the study:

“I would feel irritable, tense, restless and anxious when I could not use my mobile phone. When I couldn’t communicate with my friends, I felt so lonely, as if I was in a small cage in a solitary island.”

Although media addiction is not currently a clinical diagnosis, according to the study, students exhibited signs of physical dependency. Some were able to cope by engaging with personal contact with family and friends.

It is crazy to imagine feeling and acting like a person with a dependency on drugs, but I recall moments when my phone battery was dead or I had lost my phone when I felt completely out of sync and lost at times. Could media addiction become a clinical diagnosis for this generation?

Recently in my Neuroethics class we discussed a rather disturbing case in which a Korean couple became so addicted to a Second-Life type online game called Prius in which they raised a virtual child that their own real infant withered away and eventually died of starvation, according to a Telegraph article.

“The couple seemed to have lost their will to live a normal life, because they didn’t have jobs and gave birth to a premature baby,” Chung Jin-won, a police officer in Suwon, the Seoul suburb, told the Yonhap news agency.

“They indulged themselves in the online game of raising a virtual character so as to escape from reality, which led to the death of their real baby.”

According to my professor the mother received a reduced sentence because her Internet addition was taken into account. What are your thoughts on this?


10 Things Your College Student Won’t Tell You, Pt. 2

4 Apr

SmartMoney magazine, The Wall Street Journal Magazine of Personal Business, has been around since 1992. It has a recurring “10 Things” feature that covers all kinds of things—including “10 Things Your Spouse Won’t Tell You,” “10 Things Emergency Rooms Won’t Tell You,” and the one that is of interest to us—“10 Things Your College Student Won’t Tell You.” Here is the continued list:

4. “College life can be hazardous to my health.”

According to Kristin Kovner, writer for SmartMoney, the university experience is “marred by physical and mental health issues ranging from anorexia and communicable diseases to depression.” However, she most prominently highlights suicide, which according to her accounts for approximately 1,000 student deaths every year. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 1,350 college students commit suicide each year—with accidents being the number one leading cause.

Carla Cantor, author of Phantom Illness: Recognizing, Understanding, and Overcoming Hypochondria, writes in a Psychology Today blog:

“Parents whose college-age children have killed themselves are often startled to discover that campus administrators, faculty and other personnel were well aware that these students were seriously suicidal.”

Many times because of privacy laws and the legal adulthood of the students, universities choose not to inform students.

5. “My resume isn’t the only thing I have posted on the Internet.”

It is no secret that college students love to use social-networking sites to meet, chat, post photos, and write about just about anything. Which is why many may have noticed that recently middle names or psuedo names have replaced the once full name of many students. Why? It is job/internship search time and that means concealing the compromising images of underage drinking on websites like Facebook. With most peers posting and sharing many personal aspects of their lives and social lives, employers have taken to looking at social networking sites of potential candidates. This is no new phenomenon. In a 2006 CBS News article, Dunia Rkein, a then-college sophomore expressed her views:

“Rkein agrees that the social-networking site for students consists primarily of pictures of people partying and says “I hope that employers aren’t looking at it too in-depthly.”

The bad news is that employers are doing just that.”

“There are students who work like crazy on their GPA, but don’t think twice about what they’re posting on Facebook,” Lauren Steinfeld, chief privacy officer at the University of Pennsylvania told SmartMoney. 

Facebook, however, has its benefits. A 2007 study at Michigan State University examined the site’s ability to build social capital for its users.

“Because online relationships may be supported by technologies like distribution lists, photo directories, and search capabilities (Resnick, 2001), it is possible that new forms of social capital and relationship building will occur in online social network sites.”

6. “Just because I was a straight arrow in high school doesn’t mean I will be in college.”

Kovner cites a couple of statistics that are quite scary:

  • Each year 2.8 million college drunk, and 1,700 die from alcohol-related injuries
  • Nearly half a million engage in unprotected sex
  • Almost 100,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape
  • 29 percent say that have used prescription drugs like Vicodin, Ritalin and Adderall recreationally

It all boils down to access and freedom, according to Sue Foster, vice president and director of policy research for the National Center on Addition and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

The future is not so glum though, last year fewer than half of UCLA freshman said they had drank a beer while high school seniors.

Here are 7-10:

7. “My grades are none of your business.”

8. “I’ll do just about anything for money.”

9. “I’m up to my ears in credit card debt . . .”

10.  “. . . so I’ll be moving back home after graduation.”

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