Social networking addicts updating from bed, bathroom

Study shows 48% check Facebook, Twitter at night or first thing in morning

How many times a day to you feel the need to check in on Facebook or Twitter? Would you interrupt dinner to do it? Would you interrupt a date to do it?

If you answer yes to any of those questions, you might just be a social media addict.

Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are occupying more and more of users' time, according to a study released Wednesday by Retrevo Inc, a consumer electronics shopping and review site.

Andrew Eisner, Retrevo's director of Community and Content, noted in a blog post that the recent survey of 1,000 Americans showed that many people appear to be obsessed with trading information with their friends, family and co-workers.

The Retrevo Gadgetology study shows that 48% of those polled say they update Facebook or Twitter during the night or as soon as they wake up. And 19% of people under the age of 25 say they update Facebook or Twitter anytime they happen to wake up during the night; 11% over the age of 25 say they do the same thing.

The study also noted that 42% check Facebook or Twitter first thing in the morning, with 28% of iPhone users saying they do it before they even get out of bed.

"Among social media users, it appears almost half are so involved with Facebook and Twitter that they check in the first thing in the morning," said Eisner in the report. "With 16% of social media users saying this is how they get their morning news, could we be witnessing the first signs of social media services beginning to replace Good Morning America as the source for what's going on in the world?"

In fact, 54% of those polled said they get their morning news fix by logging onto Facebook and Twitter.

People seem so into their personal tech that they don't mind being interrupted from dinner, during a trip to the bathroom or even during sex. The study found that 40% of respondents don't mind being interrupted by a text message; 32% said interrupting a meal for a message is OK, while 7% said they'd even check a message during an intimate moment. Eleven percent of those under the age of 25 would interrupt sex for a message, and 24% under 25 would answer a message in the bathroom.

"Some of this can be ascribed to the newness and freshness of the social networking craze," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "With many people, it will probably smooth out as they become more used to it. However, there will be a percentage of people who become somewhat addicted to social networking -- to checking up on it, to maintaining it, to extending it.

"This could cause problems in their real lives as it consumes more and more of their time and attention," Olds said.

Eisner said he's not declaring that social networking is a danger to people, but he is concerned about some of the numbers he saw.

"We're not qualified to declare a societal, social media crisis, but when almost half of social media users say they check Facebook or Twitter sometime during the night or when they first wake up, you have to wonder if these people aren't suffering from some sort of addiction to social media," he said.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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