Withdrawal symptoms common amongst web users
Research undertaken by Yahoo! and media agency OMD, recently challenged participants to live without using the Internet at all for two weeks. Participants in the human experiment were deprived of the web for 14 days, and found themselves quickly succumbing to "withdrawal and feelings of loss, frustration and disconnectedness".
The most missed uses were booking travel, checking sports scores, communicating with friends and family, and paying bills.
It found that regardless of age, race or class, all participants in the study experienced withdrawal and feelings of loss, frustration and disconnectedness when cut off from the net.
Users described their time offline as "feeling left out of the loop", having to "resist temptation" to go online and missing their "private escape time" during the day.
"I haven't talked to people I usually talk to and have been tempted to go on instant-messenger because I feel out of the loop," said study participant Kristin S.
Whilst Penny C said: "I'm starting to miss emailing my friends."
According to the researchers, the reason for the rapid collapse of their universe is because: "Internet users feel confident, secure and empowered. The Internet has become, to some, the ultimate symbol of modernity to the point that participants were hobbled without convenient access to routine information like maps and telephone numbers. The pervasive nature of the Internet is such that participants often forgot or lost the desire to use 'old fashioned tools' like the phone book, newspapers and telephone-based customer service."
Wenda Harris Millard, chief sales officer at Yahoo!, said: "This study is entirely indicative of the myriad ways that the Internet, in just 10 short years of mainstream consumer consumption, has irrevocably changed the daily lives of consumers.
"This is true to the extent that it was incredibly difficult to recruit participants for this study, as people weren't willing to be without the Internet for two weeks."
She said that the research would help marketers to reach their target audiences by giving them insight into the reasons consumers make the choices they do and how they are emotionally impacted.
Wenda Harris Millard: "Deep ethnographic research like this enables us to do much more than look at consumer trends, it allows a rare glimpse into the reasons consumers make the choices they do and how they are emotionally impacted. We can then help marketers apply these insights to reach their target audiences."
Sean Finnegan, director of OMD Digital, said: "OMD is already implementing the insights gleaned from this simple yet non-intuitive study into our Checkmate planning process, enabling the brands that we represent to further capitalise on their audience's use of new media."
The results of the Internet Deprivation Study, conducted by Conifer Research, were based on 13 households, containing a total of 28 participants, who gave up their Internet connections for a period of 14 days. The results were based on in-depth analyses of written and videotaped interviews and diaries.
Sources: Revolution, The Register
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