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?


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