The Checkup: Social Media Harder to Resist than Cigarettes, Alcohol

In a new study, people gave in to urges to check Twitter and email more frequently than cravings for cigarettes or beer.

Photo from Burke/Triolo Productions

• As far as cravings go, I’ve never really considered the urge to check email as one of them. But now that I think about it, thanks to smartphones, that seemingly natural, innocent reflex is exactly that. Researchers found that the urge to check Twitter or email was actually harder to resist than cravings like smoking or drinking. And while urges for sleep or sex are stronger, people are still more likely to yield to temptations to check their Twitter feed. A few weeks ago, I wrote about a local company called Vynamic, which is trying to help its employees be healthier. One of its recent initiatives was to encourage employees to “unplug” or turn off their phones and computers for an hour before going to bed. Research shows it helps you sleep better (you’re brain is less stimulated), plus it’s a good way to de-stress. Since writing the Vynamic story, I’ve been thinking about that challenge—and how miserably I fail at it every night. Minutes before bed, you can always find me checking my email one last time, or scrolling through my Facebook feed on my phone. For me, this study’s more fuel to try and keep my mitts off my phone each night. How about you?

• Love this story. A local guy and seven friends are setting off to row across the Atlantic to raise money for charity on February 15th.

• Every fall, just as football season is getting underway, there’s always a spike in stories on the dangers and risks of concussions, especially for young athletes. Many recent stories have focused on new technology that can provide better—and faster—screening to decide if a person has suffered a brain injury. New research found that one of the most widely used concussion screeners, called ImPACT, may not be all that reliable after all.