First World Problems

Twitter Generation Reports Physical Symptoms From Internet Withdrawal

"While disconnected, students complained of feeling depressed, lonely, bored and less focused. They also complained of physical withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, feeling fidgety and hearing phantom ringing."

intervention Twitter Generation Reports Physical Symptoms From Internet WithdrawalA new scourge is sweeping the nation, Al Jazeera reports today in an in-depth investigation, that could be fodder for the saddest episode of Intervention to date.

Millenials are addicted to the Internet, the story says, even manifesting physical addiction symptoms and necessitating the existence of Internet rehab clinics.

A study by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda asked 200 students at the University of Maryland to abstain from digital media including Internet, social media, phones and music for 24 hours. “Although I started the day feeling good, I noticed my mood started to change around noon. I started to feel isolated and lonely. I received several phone calls that I could not answer,” wrote one student. “By 2:00 pm. I began to feel the urgent need to check my email, and even thought of a million ideas of why I had to. I felt like a person on a deserted island… I noticed physically, that I began to fidget, as if I was addicted to my iPod and other media devices, and maybe I am.”

Cue the eyerolls! But some psychologist have posited that heavy Internet usage is changing neural pathways in the brain. “My research has raised some red flags about the effects on our psyche from these new technologies,” Dr. Elias Aboujaoude, director of the Impulse Control Disorders Clinic at Stanford University, told Al Jazeera. “Think before you click,” he advised.

Betabeat is familiar with social media addiction thanks to Twitter addicts Diana Adams and Laurel Snyder, who described the hold Twitter has over them. “I sleep with my phone under my pillow,” Ms. Adams confessed to Betabeat. “But if you think that’s bad, you don’t know any real Twitterholics.”

The first comment on the Al Jazeera story: “I’ve been Facebook free since October. It’s hard. Sometimes, especially after a bad day, I just want a little taste of Facebook. But I know it’s not good for me in the long run. So, I take it one day at a time, because I know I don’t want to go back to that life.”

The world needs to know about this dangerous threat. Know someone with a Twitter twitch or a Farmville fetish? Get them on A&E before more children die.

Follow Adrianne Jeffries on Twitter or via RSS. ajeffries@observer.com