Study examines technology's effect on college students' mental health

October 10, 2010
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New York — mtvU, MTV's 24-hour college network, The Jed Foundation and The Associated Press today revealed the results of a new poll examining college students' emotional health, their close relationship with technology, and how being constantly connected is affecting their state of mind.

Not surprisingly, technology functions as a critical lifeline for college students with 90 percent saying they've visited a social networking site in the last week, and about four in 10 having over 500 friends on those sites. Yet, one in seven say that social networking sites increase feelings of isolation. Nearly 70 percent report reading posts from someone close to them that seemed like a cry for emotional help, and while most students would offer support in some way, fewer than half would make a personal visit. Additionally, the consequences of emotional distress in today's college students is concerning—one in five students have friends who have talked about wanting to end their lives in the past year.

For college students, constant digital communication carries an additional layer of complexity, often leading to misunderstandings, confusion and uncertainty. At least half the time when students read emails, text messages or posts on social networking sites, 48 percent say that they are unsure about whether the sender was serious or joking. The study also finds that nearly 70 percent have had an argument exclusively via text message, even though the vast majority say face-to-face is a better way to resolve conflicts. Additionally, 61 percent of students say they have found themselves frequently tracking someone's social networking profile.

The study is being released as part of mtvU and The Jed Foundation's ongoing "Half of Us" campaign, along with new programming launching today on-air and online at www.halfofus.com that explores how technology is impacting college students' emotional health. Additional programming rolling out this month includes a series of spots highlighting how students can balance technology and emotional health, and new interviews with Maika Maile, the frontman for the band There for Tomorrow, and Casey McPherson, frontman for Alpha Rev.