Quitting technology may be as hard as quitting other addictions

Could you go 24 hours without this?

Could a few days away from your BlackBerry compare to quitting smoking or drinking? A new study says yes.

A report from the British firm Intersperience found that more than 50 percent of subjects were “upset” when they were asked to refrain from using technology for 24 hours and 40 percent were “lonely” when they didn’t text, e-mail, use social networking sites or watch TV.

Many participants cheated by watching TV or listening to the radio, saying they didn’t count as technology. Others turned their phones to silent because they couldn’t spend a day without it being available.

Of the subjects, ages 18 to 65, the younger ones were most negatively effected by the change, while those over 40 were able to manage better. Only 23 percent of participants said they would feel “free” without an Internet connection.

Paul Levinson, professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, disagreed with the survey’s conclusions.

“Calling the use of BlackBerries or any online activity as addiction is a gross misuse, in fact, absurd misuse of the word ‘addiction,’” he says. “And the reason is that you think about what happens to someone who has a heroin addiction — I mean look what happened to Amy Winehouse: she died as a result. People who really want to break their addiction go through all kinds of physical trauma. In contrast, people might express discomfort about not being able to use their BlackBerries for five days or a week, but they don’t go through any physical withdrawal symptoms [and] they don’t die if they continue to use it.”


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