Texting: Can we pull the plug on our obsession?

Seventy percent of them quit the experiment, saying they simply couldn't do it.

"They felt a tremendous amount of boredom. They were bored without it," said Golitsynskly. "They felt emotionally detached from the rest of the world."

One American student reported: "I was itching, like a crackhead..." Someone in the U.K. said: "Media is my drug ... I am an addict." A student from China wrote: "I was almost freaking out." And a person from Argentina reported: "Sometimes I felt 'dead.'"

Nicholas Carr, who writes about technology and culture, says, "I think we become obsessive in our desire to keep checking Facebook updates and texts and emails."

Carr believes there's a scientific reason why these devices are our favorite vices: "People have a primitive instinct to want to gather information, to want to know everything that's going on around them. And you can kind of see how that would help you survive back in cavemen and cavewomen days. Where it becomes a problem is when we create this new world for ourselves where there's unlimited amounts of information. We can't stop this compulsive checking."

If we can't stop, think how hard it will be for the generation that's never known anything else, like a toddler - a YouTube sensation - who's so used to the touch screen iPad that a magazine leaves her mystified. How does this work? Why isn't it responding!

"The trend is toward ever more connection, ever more distraction," said Carr.

He thinks all this distraction is messing up our brains: "It begins to crowd out all the quieter, calmer moments, when you might engage in reflection or introspection or contemplation."

But decades ago, people were saying that television would rot our brains! Carr insists there's a difference:

"It was isolated into certain periods of our days," he said. "You'd come home from work and you'd watch some TV, or you'd watch some TV on the weekend. Some people, the first thing they do when they wake up, check their e-mail. Last thing they do before they go to bed, take another glance. And so this is the first time we've had a technology that is kind of imposing itself on us throughout the entire course of a day."