Social Media and Email Are More Addictive Than Alcohol and Cigarettes

If, like mine, your partner thinks you have a problem because you check social media and email too often, it turns out they might be right. A new study suggests that checking our phones and computers is more addictive than alcohol and cigarettes.

A team from Chicago University's Booth Business School carried out a study to gauge the willpower of 205 people aged between 18 and 85, reports the Guardian. Basically, the participants had to note down at regular intervals what urges they were feeling through the course of an entire week. Sifting through thousands of results, the team were able to draw up a list of the most common urges within the group.

The results? Fortunately, we all have some sense. Topping the urge chart were sleep and leisure time. Good. However, tweeting, checking email and studying social media all ranked higher than drinking booze and smoking. Sadly, even work was a more frequent urge than having a beer. Speaking to the Guardian, Wilhelm Hofmann, the lead researcher, said:

"Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not 'cost much' to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist.

"With cigarettes and alcohol there are more costs – long-term as well as monetary – and the opportunity may not always be the right one. So, even though giving in to media desires is certainly less consequential, the frequent use may still 'steal' a lot of people's time."

The team also studied how likely people were to give in to their desires, and interestingly peoples' will power declined through the day, especially when it came to work or hitting the internet for a fix. It turns out people are quite good at resisting their sexual urges, however. Shame. [The Guardian; Image: Egan Snow]