'Social media more addictive than cigarettes, alcohol'



Washington: Cannot resist your urge to tweet or check emails? Don't get surprised, as a new study has found that checking email and social media is more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol.

US researchers who carried out an experiment to test the will power of 205 people, aged 18 to 85, in the German city of Wurtzburg found that most of them were more likely to give in to urge to tweet or check email than other cravings like drinking or smoking.

"Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not 'cost much' to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist," said lead researcher Wilhelm Hofmann at Chicago University's Booth Business School.

In the experiment using BlackBerry devices, participants were asked seven times a day over the course of a week to identify desires they were experiencing and the strength of said desires.

The team sifted through thousands of responses and came up with some telling results. Thankfully, the study showed we're all not slaves to vice and distraction, as the need for sleep and leisure topped the list.

However, next on the list of "self-control failure rates" was checking in with social media, email and work -- ahead of the urge to have a Camel Light, while sipping on that glass of 12-year single malt scotch.

"With cigarettes and alcohol there are more costs -- long-term as well as monetary -- and the opportunity may not always be the right one," the Discovery News quoted Hofmann as telling the Guardian.

"So, even though giving in to media desires is certainly less consequential, the frequent use may still 'steal' a lot of people's time," Hofmann added.

The results of the study are to be published soon in the journal Psychological Science.

PTI