London: A study has found that many young people suffer from gadget “withdrawal” when they are banned from using their computer or mobile phones.
The study claims that the withdrawal symptoms are comparable with those of drug addicts going “cold turkey”.
Researchers found that 79 percent of students subjected to a complete media blackout for just one day reported adverse reactions ranging from distress to confusion and isolation.
In vivid accounts, they told of overwhelming cravings, with one saying they were “itching like a crackhead [crack cocaine addict]”.
The study focused on people aged between 17 and 23 in ten countries, including the UK, where about 150 students at Bournemouth University spent 24 hours banned from using phones, social networking sites, the internet and TV.
They were allowed to use landline phones or read books and were asked to keep a diary.
One in five reported feelings of withdrawal akin to an addiction while 11 percent said they were confused or felt like a failure.
Nearly one in five (19 percent) reported feelings of distress and 11 percent felt isolated. Just 21 percent said they could feel the benefits of being unplugged.
Some students took their mobile phone with them just to touch them.
“Technology provides the social network for young people today and they have spent their entire lives being ‘plugged in’,” the Daily Mail quoted Susan Moeller, lead researcher of the University of Maryland study, as saying.
“Some said they wanted to go without technology for a while but they could not as they could be ostracised by their friends.
“When the students did not have their mobile phones and other gadgets, they did report that they did get into more in-depth conversations.
“Quite a number reported quite a difference in conversation in terms of quality and depth as a result,” she added, while claiming that technology “absolutely” changed relationships.