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Facebook Addiction, Could It Happen To You?

Facebook addiction, could it happen to you?

It seems there’s no end to what people can become addicted to: alcohol, heroin, prescription drugs, gambling, sex, and shopping come to mind. Now you can add Facebook addiction to the list, according to new research from the University of Bergen.

Could you be a Facebook addict?

People have access to the Internet just about everywhere: their desktops, laptops, tablets, cell phones, libraries, Internet cafes, and more. Some people have become so dependent on the Internet they seem like they can’t live without their “fix.”

In fact, experts have already identified Internet addiction and defined it as an inability to reduce one’s use of the Internet and a fixation with cyberspace so intense that one’s day-to-day activities are affected and individuals experience withdrawal symptoms (anxiety, irritability) if they do not access to the Internet.

And now there’s Facebook addiction, according to Doctor of Psychology Cecilie Schou Andreassen of the University of Bergen, whose research on a project entitled “Facebook Addiction” has been published in Psychological Reports.

Andreassen used the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale in her research, which involved 227 female and 196 male students. The Scale can help estimate the prevalence of Facebook addiction in the general population and showed that symptoms of Facebook addiction are similar to those of other addictions.

Based on her findings, Andreassen noted that you might be a Facebook addict if you:

  • Are young, as older people are less likely to become addicted
  • Are female, as the social nature of Facebook appeals to women
  • Are anxious and/or socially insecure, as anxious individuals find it easier to communicate through social networking than in person,
  • Spend a great deal of time thinking about Facebook
  • Have tried to reduce your use of Facebook but have failed
  • Feel an urge to use Facebook more and more
  • Use Facebook to forget about your personal problems
  • Feel anxious or troubled if you are unable to use Facebook
  • Use Facebook so much it has had a negative effect on your job and/or studies

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Andreassen also found that people who are ambitious and organized are less likely to become addicted to Facebook.

Other effects of Facebook
A growing number of reports show that use of social network sites like Facebook are associated with stress and opportunities for cyberbullying. Individuals who use Facebook also need to be aware that the information they reveal can become fuel during divorce cases, causing attorneys to warn their clients about the dangers of using social networking during a divorce action, because what they post can be incriminating.

In a University of Guelph study of parents and young people, the researchers revealed that it’s not just young people who are using Facebook to feel popular. Among people ages 9 through 71, younger people revealed more personal information than did older users, but that’s only because older people spent about a third less time on the Facebook site. In fact, adults were less conscious of the consequences of sharing personal information Facebook than were younger people.

Another downside of Facebook is a possible association with eating disorders. Researchers from the University of Haifa found that among adolescent girls, those who spent a lot of time on Facebook were more likely to have a negative body image and to develop eating disorders than young females who didn’t spend much time on the popular networking site.

Check out the factors Andreassen has associated with an addiction to Facebook. Could Facebook addiction happen to you?

University of Bergen

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