Social Media Is More Addictive Than Smoking

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You may be craving a cigarette break or after work drink, but the allure of Facebook and Twitter is even harder to ignore. A new study shows that texting and social media are more difficult to resist than having another beer or mid-day smoke.

To examine our inability to resist our constant cravings, researchers from the University of Chicago outfitted 205 subjects with Blackberrys. For seven days, the researchers messaged the volunteers to ask them about their urges within the past 30 minutes—what kind of desire they experienced, how strong it was and whether they were they able to resist.

The results provided a snapshot of what many of us feel each day. Fighting the urge to log into Facebook or send another tweet is often a losing battle. “Resisting the desire to work was likewise prone to fail,” Wilhelm Hofmann, the lead researcher told the Guardian. “In contrast, people were relatively successful at resisting sports inclinations, sexual urges and spending impulses, which seems surprising given the salience in modern culture of disastrous failures to control sexual impulses and urges to spend money.”

The addictive nature of social media may be the result of its “high availability,” say the researchers. In addition, with addictive substances such as alcohol and tobacco, there’s a clear message about the negative impacts on your health and wallet. That’s not as apparent with Facebook or Twitter.

The researchers also found that “as a day wears on, willpower becomes lower and self-control efforts are more likely to fail.”

So if you want to stop posting about the latest episode of CSI when you should be sleeping, you might need to lock up your phone and computer.

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