24 Hours: Unplugged – revealing UM study
April 24th, 2010

A study from the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda (ICMPA) at the University of Maryland, concludes that most college students are not just unwilling, but functionally unable to be without their media links to the world.

Researchers asked 200 students at the College Park campus to give up all media for 24 hours. After their 24 hours of abstinence, the students were then asked to blog on private class websites about their experiences: to report their successes and admit to any failures. The 200 students wrote more than 110,000 words: in aggregate, about the same number of words as a 400-page novel.

“Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort,” wrote one student. “When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life. Although I go to a school with thousands of students, the fact that I was not able to communicate with anyone via technology was almost unbearable.”

Prof. Susan Moeller led the study research team, and the six teaching assistants for the course acted as researchers/authors, conducting a qualitative content analysis of the student responses.

The study is available online at http://www.withoutmedia.wordpress.com

Susan Moeller is connected to CommGap (Communication for Government & Accountability Program) ‘People, Spaces, Deliberation’ See: Susan Moeller


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