Sameer Patel aka @sameerpatel pointed to an interesting article in the Guardian through Twitter. The title was: Twitter is harder to resist than cigarettes and alcohol, study finds. Now this is a topic I have covered before – see for example my 2009 post, Is Twitter Like Going Out for a Smoke? More on this older story later in this post but first the Guardian wrote, “Tweeting or checking emails may be harder to resist than cigarettes and alcohol, according to researchers who tried to measure how well people could resist their desires. They even claim that while sleep and sex may be stronger urges, people are more likely to give in to longings or cravings to use social and other media.” Powerful stuff this Twitter.
The research reported by the Guardian is not the first to tackle this issue. In 2009 I wrote about a Study of Social Media Addiction from Retrevo. It found that their sample used social media in the car (over 35 – 9%, under 35 – 40%), at work (over 35 – 29%, under 35 - 64%), on vacation (over 35 – 41%, under 35 - 65%), on a date (over 35 - 9%, under 35 - 34%), and after sex (over 35 - 8%, under 35 - 36%). I am sure these numbers are increasing, especially if you include playing scrabble on your smart phone.
Twitter seems to be the most addictive. For respondents under age 35, 27% of those who use Facebook said they check it more than 10 times a day compared to 39% of Twitter users checking in on Twitter more than 10 times a day. Across all age groups, 56% say they check it between one and ten times a day. I certainly find Twitter more addictive than Facebook. The activity is very fast and real time so you want to stay connected and it is easy to make a quick check.
The biggest enablers of this new addiction seem to be smart phones and other mobile devices, especially if you are under 35. In a Gadgetology study only 19% of the 35+ group use a phone as the preferred device for social media services with 81% preferring instead a desktop or laptop computer. This is me as I never use a phone, even though I have an iPhone. Perhaps I will as I get more used to my iPhone. Over on the other side of the generation gap they found 46% of those younger than 35 indicating their preference for a mobile device for all things social media.
Returning to the first post I mentioned, Is Twitter Like Going Out for a Smoke?, I wrote about how smokers often formed informal networks as they had to go to designated spots for their habit. I added the following.
So if implemented right Twitter is more like the smoker’s group without the health risks. With Twitter there is also the timing factor as to whether your paths will cross which also applies to the water cooler. In both cases, the smart networker will know the patterns of his or her prey and look for the right times to engage. Since the smoker group is together for longer periods of time, there are also more likely to be established rules of contact than the newcomer needs to learn to be effective. Smoker’s groups might be more likely to meet at certain times. There are also patterns of high Twitter use to observe. I covered this combination of taking a break and informal networks in two other related posts:
I do find Twitter to be a great way to stay connected and find out what is going on with people I like to stay connected to such as Sameer. In the month of April I will be working from a Greek Island but what made it possible for me to stay “away’ so long was the wifi connection in my temporary home so I will have Twitter, skype, this blog, etc. More on this later. Image from Hellblazer! Flickr creative commons.