I came across an interesting study today dealing with the use of and attitudes held toward social media by college students. The study was originally done in a class of a couple hundred students at the University of Maryland, but was subsequently undertaken by a dozen different universities throughout the world. About a thousand students in Uganda, Chile, the UK, the US, China, Lebanon, Argentina, Mexico, Slovakia, and Hong Kong participated in a 24-hour assignment in which they used no media: no phones, no newspapers, no video games, no tv, no internet, no iPads… you get the picture. These students unplugged.
While the scope of the study isn’t really broad enough to say this represents all young people, it’s interesting to read their responses. Technology is everywhere and media is consumed in nearly every moment of many lives. Some students enjoyed the break, but many recognized what they called their addiction to media.
There CAN be too much of a good thing. A recent Fuller Youth Institute article talked about a report in Pediatrics (the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics) about the use and effects of social media on children and adolescents (and their families). In addition to the benefits of social media use, the report highlights a number of new problems that are coming up like online harassment, “facebook depression”, sexting, & what amounts to manipulation via targeted ads.
All this should simply serve as a reminder. We shouldn’t just blindly buy into whatever is next in the social media/technology world. Think about what we’re doing and the patterns we’re setting. What kind of mess are we making when we thoughtlessly plug in to whatever comes next?