Research shows signs of social networking sites becoming “addicting” to young adults

Georgia State student, Giovani Ardila, said that in the past he has caught himself in social situations where his hand was “itching” to grab his phone and check his latest Facebook notification, but he resisted the urge out of respect for the other individual he was engaged in conversation with.

“I believe Facebook should be a tool to stay connected with people, not a black hole filled with social stigma,” Giovani said.

Another student, Joshua Brunson, said that he believed social networking websites pose an issue for students and other young adults.

“It’s so easy for students to be working on an assignment for class, and then decide to log onto one of the many websites [Twitter, Instagram…etc] with the intentions of only being on there for a couple of minutes, but before they know it, a couple of hours have passed by,” Josh said.

Brunson also noted that he personally has fallen victim to what he called the “social media’s curse” and said that these websites are “gateways to use even more websites.”

An experiment conducted by a team of researchers at Chicago University’s Booth Business School concluded that, “People are more likely to give into their urge to tweet or check their email over other cravings.”

Companies such as Presta Electronics also claim that students are becoming increasingly dependent on technological devices such as smart-phones, which contain applications to make access to social media websites easier than ever before.

It has been estimated that 57 percent of individuals between the ages of 18 to 29 have a “personal profile” on many different social media and networking websites, according to a study released by Megan Sponcil and Priscilla Gitimu of Youngstown State University.

The study conducted by Sponcil and Gitimu also noted that approximately 82 percent of their college student population reported logging into social media websites such as Facebook several times a day.

As of September 2013 Facebook reported that an estimated 728 million users logged on to the website daily. Instagram claims to have 150 million monthly users. There are 157.6 million Tumblr blogs and Twitter has an average of 231.7 million active users worldwide.

Two Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab students, Robert M. Morris and Dan McDuff, recently created a device called the Pavlov Poke because they began to notice that their use of Facebook was “borderline compulsive.”

Morris and McDuff named the device after a Russian conditioning researcher, Ivan Pavlov. The “Pavlov Poke” is a keyboard accessory that can monitor online usage and connects to a computer through a USB port.

Users of the accessory set parameters for time spent and time visited on a specific website. If they exceed their set limit, a quick electric shock is sent through the custom keyboard rest pad where their wrists and arms are set.

On the Massachusetts Institute for Technology alumni website, it states that Dan and Robert have no intentions to commercialize the Pavlov Poke but rather see it as an important tool for research.

Students and professors may not only be concerned with the amount of time consuming social media, but also with the possibility of developing social anxiety as well.

The Association for Psychological Science claims that individuals that deal with social anxiety and low self-esteem might gain from using social networking websites, but only if they are willing to participate.

According to one of their studies, online social communication skills and self-esteem are correlated, indicating a link between the strength of offline relationships and time spent online.

On the other hand, Melissa Chow and Andy Payne, also students at the Media Lab’s Tangible Media Group, have created a form of clothing that physically “rewards” Facebook users for using the website.

The clothing item is called “Like-A-Hug” and is an inflatable vest that activates when one of the user’s Facebook friends interacts with the individual by liking one of their pictures, updates, or comments on the website.

The vest uses wireless technology which activates a small fan attached within the vest to fill with air and produces an “embracing” sensation, that is very similar to the act of one person giving a hug to another.