In a recent blog post, we shared some very interesting stats about the growth of social media use. Taking it a step further, we look at a study conducted by the University of Maryland’s International Center for Media & the Public Agenda. The study, “24 Hours: Unplugged”, took 200 students and stripped them from social media for 24 hours. That meant no iPhones, texting, laptops, twittering, Facebook, and email. Some of you are shaking right now…

By reading the blogs from some of the students, not only was being “unplugged” a challenge: it was traumatic! The study reported that a few descriptions from the student’s experience were documented over and over: “In withdrawl”, “Frantically craving”, “Very anxious”, “Extremely antsy”, “Miserable”, “Jittery”, “Crazy”.

One student’s post read: “I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening”. Another one said: “I noticed physically, that I began to fidget, as if I was addicted to my iPod and other media devices”.

American college students struggle to function without their media connection to the world. Some students even failed to go 24 hours. While trying to avoid new technology and blaring TVs, the students found themselves surrounded by them regardless. Many students noted how it was “boring” to walk around without an mp3 player providing a soundtrack for their ears. When cut off from social media, many students felt cut off from other humans like they were living in isolation. The research also found that the friendships and relationships of these 18-21 year olds were dependent on technology.

Many students had been appalled when the assignment was announced.  They were skeptical about the purpose and even fearful about going without media for such a “long” period of time.  Many students admitted that they had had doubts from the beginning about their ability to complete the assignment — and those students who didn’t manage to go the entire 24 hours noted that they weren’t surprised by their failure to do so.

So what does this study remind us about business? Marketers and advertisers looking to increase brand awareness and loyalty, should strongly consider social media use. Having a better understanding of each social media method and how consumers use each service will result in providing more appealing content that will engage one’s target market in an effective and ongoing manner.

More info:

Student’s blog: A Day Without Media

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