Technology addicts lonely, upset and "can’t live" when deprived of their digital obsessions

People, especially those aged from 18 to 40, have become emotionally dependent on technology.

Twenty-four hours without an internet connection or access to a smartphone, computer or tablet is described as "my biggest nightmare" or akin to "having my hand chopped off" by respondents in a recent study conducted by British consumer research specialist Intersperience.

Intersperience challenged more than 1,000 individuals in the UK to switch off from their digital lives and to go one full day without technology to measure the extent of their "digital dependency."

The results, released this week, could be likened to that of smokers who have been deprived of their cigarettes: more than half of respondents said they felt "upset," while a significant number of participants couldn't hold out and "cheated" by watching TV or putting their phones on silent.

"A total of 40% of people felt 'lonely’ when not engaging in activities such as social networking, emails, texting or watching their favourite television channels," said Intersperience.

Some admitted that the thought of being completely disconnected, even for just one day, was "inconceivable."

A second study conducted by the University of Maryland’s International Center for Media & the Public Agenda recorded similar results when it asked university students to abstain from media for 24 hours.

When deprived of media, students from around the world experienced cravings, anxiety and depression. When asked to write about their experience, the students repeatedly used the term "addiction" to describe their dependence on technology.

"Students around the world reported that being tethered to digital technology 24/7 is not just a habit, it is essential to the way they construct and manage their friendships and social lives," said the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda.