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Going cold turkey: Students in study crack without media

A Twitter page is displayed on an Apple iPhone.

MARIO ANZUONI/Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

They craved frantically, got jittery from withdrawal and slowly grew miserable. When college students were forced to abstain from media for one day, they used the same terminology as addicts, a recent study discovered.

The International Center for Media and the Public Agenda asked 200 University of Maryland students aged 18 to 21 to give up their cellphones, iPods, computers, TVs, radios and newspapers for 24 hours, then blog about it afterward.

"Honestly, this experience was probably the single worst experience I have ever had," one wrote.

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"Although I started the day feeling good, I noticed my mood started to change around noon," another blogged. "I started to feel isolated and lonely. I received several phone calls that I could not answer. By 2:00 pm. I began to feel the urgent need to check my e-mail. … I felt like a person on a deserted island."

Students felt sad over lost connections and anxious about being out of the loop, be it a missed kegger invite or breaking news. Most of all, they suffered crushing boredom. One respondent gave up after 19 hours, cracking after seeing the "many twitter @replies from followers wondering where I was and if I was [okay]"

What did they do instead? Study, walk, long showers, sleep and even drugs.

"My short attention span prevented me from accomplishing much, so I stared at the wall for a little bit," one participant wrote. "After doing some push-ups, I decided to take a few Dramamine and go to sleep to put me out of my misery."

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