Social Media More Addictive than Cigarettes and Alcohol. Really?

BRG is reporting this morning that a new study suggests Facebook and Twitter are more addictive than cigarettes or alcohol. The way the study was set up is Blackberry users were polled several times a day, asking what they wanted to see in the last 30 minutes; they were also asked to rate their own desire.

I really don’t like studies like this; they are comparing something people enjoy using to 2 very addictive substances. Possibly the biggest flaw here is that people are asked to gauge their own desire. In a world where people say, “Today, I had to have a serious talk with my boyfriend about his Miley Cyrus obsession. FML” (src) and a meme exists citing “First World Problems,” people probably cannot accurately gauge their feelings/desires. Desire is relative to personal experience. It’s like how college students call themselves alcoholics because they drink every weekend. Some are kidding, but some really mean it. But I’m a little off-topic now.

My point is that studies like this (and statistics in general) really do not show us any useful data. Of-course people are going to use Facebook and Twitter more than cigarettes and alcohol. There is no law prohibiting minors from the use of social networks (not  that I’m opposed to that). Plus, Facebook and Twitter are free. (To be fair, that latter point was cited in BGR’s article.)

Until people start neglecting their responsibilities to use Facebook and Twitter, we can’t say that social networks are more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol especially.

1 Response


  1. Phil C said:

    I disagree with your argument, mostly on the basis that I don’t think people really derive that much enjoyment from social media. It’s more just people feel like they want it because of its immediacy which is pretty much unparalleled.

    On 2/6/2012 at 12:55 PM