Figures have revealed the web surfing habits of Sussex students. Facebook was the most popular website, accounting for nearly 50 times as much web traffic as the academic journal sites ScienceDirect and JSTOR.
Other top destinations included YouTube, MySpace and film download sites. The figures sampled a one week period last term, including internet access from computer rooms, campus accommodation and wireless users.
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Many students will be familiar with the distractions of online social networking sites, with 87% of first-year students saying they use Facebook regularly. In a sign that the University is already taking the problem seriously, its Psychological and Counselling Service is setting up a Procrastination Group which it describes as “an innovative workshop to find ways of tackling procrastination.”
However, not wanting to be left behind by the online social networking craze, the University has also set up its own official profile on the microblogging service Twitter. Twitter allows users to post 140-character updates or ‘tweets’ which range in significance from what the author ate for breakfast to comments on current affairs. The service has soared in popularity in recent months, fuelled by the appearance of celebrity Twitterers such as Barack Obama and Stephen Fry.
Since signing up, the University of Sussex has twittered the news of the appointment of the new Chancellor Sanjeev Bhaskar, appearances by Sussex academics in the media and the launch of a new range of University mugs. But not everyone at Sussex is positive about the Twitter phenomenon. Dr David Lewis, a cognitive neuropsychologist based at the Innovation Centre on campus, told The Times, “We are the most narcissistic age ever.”
“Using Twitter suggests a level of insecurity whereby, unless people recognise you, you cease to exist. It may stave off insecurity in the short term, but it won’t cure it.”