University students faced with a sudden Internet and media blackout begin to feel withdrawal symptoms after 24 hours, according to a study conducted by the University of Maryland's International Center for Media & the Public Agenda. The study followed the reactions of 1,000 students around the globe after they were asked to abstain from all forms of media for a day, leading the researchers to believe that Internet addiction is a real phenomenon, even if there's debate about it as a clinical diagnosis.
Students from 10 countries—including the US, Mexico, China, Argentina, the UK—all reported distress, isolation, confusion, boredom, and a feeling of addiction when they had to go 24 hours without any form of media, including Internet, music, games, news shows, and their cell phones. However, the numbers were not all equal—students from the US and China (mainland and Hong Kong) showed the highest percentages of feeling addicted, at 23 and 22 percent respectively.
Based on some of the quotes highlighted in the study—one student from Argentina said he "felt dead" without media, one from the US said she was "itching like a crackhead," and a Lebanese student simply said the whole experience was "sickening"—it's no surprise students feel conflicted about their dependence on media. It's the ultimate "can't live with it, can't live without it" situation; students recognize that there are other joys in life besides media, yet most can't get through a single day without feeling distress over being disconnected.