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Social Networking—The New Cigarette?

Networking
Networking

Twenty-somethings used to congregate outside bars to bum cigarettes, holding onto the nicotine sticks as the ultimate social safety blanket. These days those same people are more likely to be clutching a cell phone or Blackberry , showing their cool factor by furiously tapping out Twitter updates.

It appears social media applications may be the new addiction, particularly for the younger generation, according to a "Gadgetology" study by Retrevo.com, a consumer electronics shopping site, which polled nearly 800 people. The sample size isn't huge, but the trends are striking:

No surprise, those under 35 years old and younger are the most addicted. More than half of that group say they check Facebook and Twitter a couple times a day, while a full 27 percent of respondents under 35 said they check Facebook 10 times a day. Though Twitter has a smaller audience than Facebook, apparently it's more addictive: 39% of that same subset said they check Twitter more than ten times a day.

What's most shocking is *when* people say they check. It's no secret that texting while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk, but that isn't stopping a full 40 percent of the under-35 set from Tweeting or checking Facebook while on the road. And here's a salacious one: thirty-six percent of the younger generation said they check their social applications after sex, four times the number of people over 35 who admitted to reaching for their iPhone.

Social media—Facebook status updates and Tweets—are all about immediate access and insta-updates, so it's no surprise that people don't want to miss a beat. But if you're constantly reaching for your mobile device instead of looking across the dinner table (or pillow) you've got to wonder if there need to be some limits!

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.