(NaturalNews) Constantly updating your Facebook status, Twittering your every move and spying on your friends, relatives and coworkers who are doing the same things, can increase stress levels, ruin sleep patterns and even degrade meaningful personal relationships, according to a new study out of Harrisburg University of Science and Technology (HUST). Social media can so quickly become an addiction, say scientists, that it is literally ruining people's lives, both in terms of health and relationship.
Researchers from HUST recently performed a social experiment in which they deprived the university's entire 800-student population from using social media for a week. What they found is that social media addiction is similar to drug addiction, in that people go through similar withdrawal symptoms.
"The majority of students behaved much like smokers who sneak cigarettes after class," explained Eric Darr, provost of the college, in a recent Fox News article. "They would sneak off to check things on their smart phones."
Some students are so addicted to social networking sites like Facebook that they spend upwards of 21 hours a day connected to the site in some way, whether through their computers or through their mobile phones, leaving only a couple hours for uninterrupted sleep. Many have no time whatsoever for quality, face-to-face interaction with their friends and family members as a result.
But because of the experiment, many students came to the abrupt realization that social network addiction is destroying their health both physically and relationally. Some admitted that they need to make some radical changes in their daily habits.
"Students realized that social media, especially Facebook and instant messaging, if not properly managed, can take over their lives," emphasized Darr. "Only by stopping and paying attention can we understand. We may not even be aware that social media plays a big part in what we do and how we do it."