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Page last updated at 08:48 GMT, Friday, 22 October 2010 09:48 UK
Bournemouth students in media black-out experiment
By Zoe Kleinman
Reporter, BBC Dorset

Unplugged experiment
Unplugged students Caroline Scott, Elliott Day and Charlotte Gay

Hundreds of students at Bournemouth University are taking part in a global experiment to see how people react to a total media black-out.

They have been asked to avoid radio, television, the internet and mobile phones for 24 hours.

The experiment, called Unplugged, is being carried out across Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America.

Bournemouth University is the only place in the UK to take part. In total 530 students have been contacted.

Caroline Scott, a first year multi-media journalism student, said that the experience was more of a challenge than she had expected.

"At first I thought it would just be not e-mailing or texting, I didn't appreciate how much media there is all around me in day-to-day life," she said.

"I'm outside a classroom just now, there are TVs, posters, music - I was really shocked that it was absolutely everywhere."

Withdrawal

I think my mum would find it just as hard as I did - it's not just my generation
Caroline Scott, 'Unplugged' participant

The Bournemouth part of the experiment, hosted by the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change, is being supervised by communications and journalism lecturer Dr Roman Gerodimos.

Students have until Sunday 24 October to take part in Unplugged if they wish, but quite a few have already written up their experiences.

"What they have said about music and background noise is interesting," said Dr Gerodimos.

"Every single person [so far] has said there was an eerie or deafening silence - that it was scary and isolating. They are just not used to existing without background music."

In an earlier pilot study, people reported feelings similar to alcohol or drug addiction withdrawal symptoms, he added.

Caroline Scott said she missed her mobile phone the most, and felt isolated as she was unable to coordinate social meetings around lecture times.

"If I were to do it again I'd probably plan a lot more in advance. I had a lot of situations where I'd reach into my bag to get my phone and check the time - I had to put a watch on half way through the day."

However she also said she found herself talking to people a lot more and reading more of her text books than usual as she was unable to search for the relevant paragraph online at the university's intranet.

Generation gap

mobile phone users
Mobile phones are most popular with young Europeans say experts.

The BBC's technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones went to see how Ms Scott and her fellow students were getting on.

"They live in an age where everything is conducted on the fly with these new forms of technology - already just arranging to meet them has been pretty complicated," he said.

"I am online almost every waking minute in some form or another. I would find it impossible to do my job if I was 'Unplugged'."

Caroline Scott added she didn't think that her experience was specific to her generation.

"I think my mum would find it just as hard as I did - it's not just my generation that's grown up with it. My mum has a Facebook account, she has an iPod - society as a whole has changed."




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