Tweeting more tempting than alcohol, study says

Sleep and sex may be stronger urges, but people are more likely to give in to social media, a new study says.

It may be less harmful than a lot of other vices, but tweeting is harder to resist than alcohol and cigarettes, according to a new study.

Those taking part were more likely to give in to using social media than they were to sleep or have sex, despite having stronger urges for the latter two, the Guardian reports. Of course, there are far more opportunities to tweet, and it's a lot quicker than other activities, which may help explain the results.

The team carrying out the study was headed by Willhelm Hofmann of Chicago University's Booth Business School. They handed out BlackBerrys to the 205 participants aged between 18 and 85, and asked them to record their type of desire, its strength, and whether they resisted or caved. They were messaged seven times a day over 14 hours for a week, and responded with info about their desires.

Sleep and leisure were the strongest desires, but the highest "self-control failure rates" were with media i.e. tweeting and Facebook. Surprisingly, subjective reporting of desire was relatively low for tobacco, alcohol and coffee.

"Resisting the desire to work when it conflicts with other goals such as socialising or leisure activities may be difficult because work can define people's identities, dictate many aspects of daily life, and invoke penalties if important duties are shirked," the academics said.

Hofmann (or The Hof, as we like to call him) told the Guardian, "Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of the high availability and also because 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."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, those taking part "did not feel a desire to use [the BlackBerrys given to them for the study] -- they only beeped once in a while and, if anything, that was more annoying than pleasing, I guess," Hofmann said.

How much of your day do you spend using social media? Is it addictive? Give in to temptation, and head over to our Facebook page to let us know, or do so below in the comments.

About the author

    Joe has been writing about consumer tech for nearly seven years now, but his liking for all things shiny goes back to the Gameboy he received aged eight (and that he still plays on at family gatherings, much to the annoyance of his parents). His pride and joy is an Infocus projector, whose 80-inch picture elevates movie nights to a whole new level.


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