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Facebook Addiction

Abhijit Naik
How long can you stay from using Facebook ? Find hard to answer to this, then you can definitely say, Facebook addiction is for real.
A recent study at the Chicago University's Booth Business School revealed that social media is more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol. Talk of social media, and Facebook -- the largest social networking website in the world -- with more than a billion monthly active users to its credit, is definitely going to be the center of any discussion.
With people getting obsessed with the social networking website, Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD) and Facebook Overdose (FOD) are becoming popular.
You wake up, and the first thing you do in the morning is log onto your Facebook account to check what transpired when you were fast asleep. It might be a coincidence, but this is exactly what you did last night before you went to sleep!
This, basically, is one of the numerous signs of Facebook addiction, which suggest that you are 'probably' suffering from this disorder. Other signs of the same are...
  • You spend more than an hour on Facebook -- at a stretch, or in short episodes over regular intervals.
  • You and your siblings converse through Facebook messages, even though you stay in the same home.
  • You can't seem to stop thinking about Facebook updates and comments when you are offline.
  • You check Facebook for updates and comments after every hour at your workstation, or on your cell phone.
  • You look forward to getting home in the evening so that you can see what is happening in cyberspace.
  • Your Facebook wall is full of status updates and  comments.
  • You can't go for a day without using Facebook; even the thought of this makes you go into a sort of depression.
  • You give priority to Facebook over your commitments.
  • Your day ends with you checking Facebook for that one last time and bidding people 'gudnite' through your status update.
  • And lastly, you wake up in middle of the night to see whether anyone has commented on your 'gud nite' status, or liked it.
If you have been doing any of these things frequently, it might mean you are suffering from Facebook Addiction Disorder, or you are at least vulnerable to it. (Though it's a non-medical term as of today, it's bound to make it to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, sooner or later.)
It may seem harmless to get involved in virtual life, but there is a limit to it. Beyond that, it is more likely to result in some serious consequences on your mental health and social life, and therefore, you need to 'do something about it' as soon as possible.

Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD)

Facebook--and other similar social networking websites--are meant to help people stay in touch with their friends, make new friends, play games, plan events, etc. All these activities are no doubt enjoyable, but so is our actual life, and that's something which we seem to have long forgotten.
As you start spending more time online, you invariably start neglecting yourself and the people around you; this is where Facebook Addiction Disorder sets in. 
Though this is not considered a medical condition as yet, going by the current trends it wouldn't be surprising if it is included in the DSM sometime soon.
After all, Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) is one of the proposed inclusions to the DSM V due for publication in May 2013. That countries like China, South Korea, and Taiwan have already acknowledged this disorder, is again a more than obvious sign of what's in store for us.
A person who spends an hour on social networking websites every day cannot be deemed an addict, but what about a person spending 6 hours a day, or so? The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, devised by a research team under Dr. Cecilie Schou Andreassen at the University of Bergen, is believed to be an apt diagnostic tool for Facebook addiction.

Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale

As a part of Facebook addiction diagnosis, the users are subjected to six statements, and told to grade these statements as (i) Very rarely, (ii) Rarely, (iii) Sometimes, (iv) Often, and (v) Very Often.
1. You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook.

2. You feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.

3. You use Facebook in order to forget about personal problems.
4. You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without success.

5. You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using Facebook.

6. You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies.
If the user grades any four, or more, statements as 'Often', or 'Very Often', then the same may hint at the possibility of an addiction. Again, that would just be a sign of addiction, as the problem is yet to be added to any medical dictionary.  There are numerous signs of addiction but sometimes we fail to notice them even when they are pretty obvious.

Facebook Addiction Statistics

If you have this lurking feeling that you are addicted to Facebook, it's highly unlikely that you are alone. Facebook boasts of 137.6 million unique visitors per month in the United States alone. Data released by the company shows that approximately 584 million users, which is more than half of its registered users, log on to their account every single day.
The advent of cell phones has further contributed to this obsession, with more than 600 million users logging-in through their cell phones every month.
A study at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, revealed that users -- on an average -- spend 75 minutes a day on Facebook. Gender-wise breakup of the data showed that men spend 64 minutes and women spend 81 minutes on this website every day.
While that doesn't necessarily amount to addiction, the way it affects one's actual life definitely does. If an average user logs in on Facebook 6.1 times a day, as this Swedish survey reveals, there must be users who do it far too often -- say every half an hour -- and start feeling restless if they can't.
Furthermore, this study also revealed a few more startling facts, like
  • 85 percent of the respondents said Facebook had become a daily routine for them
  • 70 percent of the users admitted that they log in every time they start their computer
  • 67 percent revealed that they log in just to kill time
There is no dearth of studies, which highlight our obsession with Facebook. With such statistical data at our disposal, it becomes obvious that Facebook addiction is for real and has, in fact, gone way beyond a simple obsession. That also explains the newly coined non-medical term -- Facebook Addiction Disorder.

How to Deal With this Addiction

As in case of any other addiction, the foremost thing to do in this case is to admit that you are suffering from it, and understand that it can affect your life. You will be able to make headway in your Facebook de-addiction resolve only when you are convinced of its ill-effects on your life.
The next step is to decide how much time you want to spend on Facebook every day, or whether you want to do that on a daily basis at all. The lesser time you spend, the better it will be. At the same time, you should try giving up Facebook for other events and activities.
Studies show an inverse relationship between your social relationships and the time you spend online. Spending more time with your family and friends, instead of being glued to your personal computer, will be of great help in your de-addiction drive.
You will have a strong urge to check it every once in a while -- when you are in the office, before you go to sleep, early in the morning, etc. You will have to make sure that you don't fall prey to such urges.
The chances of you falling prey are more when you have an easy access, and when we talk about easy access, the first thing to consider is the Facebook app on your cell phone. If you intend to get rid of your Facebook addiction, one of the foremost things to do would be to get rid of this app.
Going cold turkey may not work for everyone, but you might as well try taking that route to see if it works for you. Abstinence is the best bet when it comes to some addictions, but to abstain, one has to have a strong reason backing the step.
In this case, you need to take a note of the damage social networking is causing your actual social life. You need to treat Facebook-ing as a pastime activity, and you will be able to get rid of this addiction within a few days.
Remember that Facebook addiction is just a facet of Internet addiction, which can go much beyond Facebook itself. Internet addiction is a broad concept encompassing addiction of social networking websites, like Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, and MySpace, as well as addiction of online dating, video sharing, blogging, and random surfing. 
Getting involved in the virtual world is not a bad thing, but getting involved to an extent wherein you ignore your commitments definitely is.