Certain human behaviors, habits, and obsessions have been classified as addictions by psychological and medical organizations.
For example, substance-related disorders such as Alcohol Dependence and impulse-control disorders such as Pathological Gambling are recognized as official diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
Official recognition of what does and does not constitute a "disorder" is something that continues to evolve. For example, until it was removed from the DSM in 1986, homosexuality was listed as a diagnosable disorder.
While some disorders are dropped from classification systems, others are modified, and occasionally, new problematic conditions are added.
In recent years the mental health community has become increasingly interested in the impact that modern technology has on our lives - both positive and negative.
On the positive side, technologies such as Skype, Facetime, and Facebook allow us to stay in contact with family and friends on the other side of the planet. Video conferencing may allow us to occasionally work from home. Having a Smartphone with GPS capabilities means that we will never get lost (or have to ask for directions) again!
Yet, whenever we are introduced to a new form of entertainment there is the potential for unhealthy use, overuse, or abuse. Look no further than alcohol or gambling for examples of activities that are relatively harmless in moderation but which can cause serious problems when one is addicted. Even healthy activities such as exercise can cause significant health problems if it becomes an obsession (for example, compulsively running six hours per day on a treadmill).
Regarding the potential for some people to become "hooked" on technology, internet addiction and video game addition have received the most study from researchers and clinicians. However, social media sites like Facebook have also caught their attention.
It is very likely that you know people who absolutely must check their Facebook account when they first wake up, obsessively check it throughout the day, and never fail to log in just one last time before going to sleep for the night.
Perhaps they spend hours upon hours every day updating their status, uploading pictures, commenting on walls, playing Facebook games, reading updates from others, and searching for new friends to add. Maybe they often neglect other important responsibilities, commitments, or people in favor of Facebook. Perhaps their real-world relationships, careers, or schoolwork suffer due to too much time on Facebook.
Facebook has become one of the most popular social networks and almost half of its users visit their pages every day. Some users get involved so much that they do not notice how they spend hours on Facebook leaving their businesses undone. Sometimes such people are so immersed into the virtual world that they do not have time for their real friends and family.
Facebook-addiction is equated to drug addiction
Recently psychologists started to talk about new phenomenon, which they called FAD or Facebook Addiction Disorder. This term refers to the psychological state that is determined by and dependent on the time a person spends on Facebook communication. Facebook addict spends so much time on the website that the human healthy life balance is upset. This has negative influence on personality and other sides of social life.
The disorder is characterized by 6 symptoms. People who suffer from FAD have at least 2 or 3 of the Facebook addiction signs during a long period of time, it is about 6-8 months.
Tolerance. Term “tolerance” is used to describe the Facebook addict’s behaviour. An addict starts to spend much more time on the website and eventually comes to the point when it turns into obsessive dependence. An addict feels the need for a permanent presence on Facebook or otherwise there will not be feeling of life satisfaction. One of the signs of this kind of addiction for the close friends or family members, who think they deal with an addict, can be the observation of how many windows are constantly opened on the Facebook site. If they are three or even more it proves that a person really suffers this state.
Withdrawal symptoms. They occur if a person does not have possibility to use Facebbok and has to take part in ordinary everyday life. The symptoms are: irritability, anxiety, feeling of depression and worry, obsession to talk to other people about Facebook, about messages that could have been sent while his absence and so on.
Reduction of normal social / recreational activities. One who suffers from FAD devotes catastrophically less time to personal communication with friends, sport activities and all other kinds of activities he used to do before. Every minute now is spent on Facebook. Actually, the whole life begins to be spent on many hours photos and profiles browsing. An addict will rather prefer not to meet with the friends in café, but to send messages on Facebook. There will be virtual chat instead of celebration dinner. In extremis a person can stop receiving calls from the relatives and friends and demand that everyone should use Facebook to communicate with him.
Virtual dates. No real meetings, just virtual ones. Instead of visiting party, movie etc., Facebook addicts tell their partner what time they will be online.
Fake friends. There is a simple text: if 8 in 10 people on your Facebook page are strangers, you have no idea who they are and you have never seen them in real life, then you can not deny you have serious problems with FAD.
Complete addiction. When meeting new people, right after saying the name, Facebook addicts say their new “friend”: “I will talk to you on Facebook”. Any messages or other requests they get make them feel excitement that reminds the state of gaming addicts during the roulette or poker game. They create Facebook profiles even for their pets.
When Facebook activity transforms into Facebook addiction
Psychiatrists argue about whether Internet addiction is a separate mental disorder of modern times or it is just a symptom of already studied neurological diseases.
If you relatives or family members make jokes that you have become Facebook addictive, they can be right. Researchers from the University of Bergen, in Norway, have identified six characteristic features of addiction on the social media. These key features were used by analytics to create an appropriate test.
Test called Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale is based on 6 criteria that can be evaluated in five-point system: “very seldom”, “seldom”, “sometimes”, “often”, “very often”.
Here are these criteria:
- You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or planning what else you need to write there.
- You have an obsessive desire to use Facebook more and more often.
- You use Facebook to abstract from family problems.
- You had already tried to spend less time on Facebook but you failed.
- You feel irritation when someone distracts you from writing posts on Facebook.
- You use Facebook often to the prejudice of your main fctivity.
“Do you have addition? You are not alone!” – researchers claim.
“Facebook popularity increases very fast. Today we can talk about subtype of Internet addiction – addiction on the social media”, – said research leader Cecilie Schou Andreassen.
Andreassen head research project “Facebook addiction” in the University of Bergen. The results of her researching were recently published in the Psychological Reports magazine.
Andreassen said that during the research she faced cases of obvious Facebook addiction. “More often young people are addicted, mature people become addicted more seldom. We also noticed that Facebook is often used by people who are concerned with certain obsessions, and sometimes even socially dangerous. Probably it happens because it is easier and more comfortable for them to communicate in a social network than in real life”, – she noted.
Ambitious people and people with good self-discipline and self-organization are less likely to become Facebook addicted. Holistic personality considers that social media is an integral part of the work and / or Internet-experience, no more than that.
“Women risk more to be tempted and start “living” in Facebook-reality, probably, because of woman’s social nature”, – Andreassen claims.
Andreassen also notices that the research proved the following: Facebook addiction is closely related to extraversion. People who get high score on the “Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale” often have disruptions in the normal rhythm of wakefulness / sleep.
In the University of Bergen research took part 423 students – 227 women and 196 men.
In spite of Andreassen’s research results, other specialists are not sure that the reason of Internet addiction is the fact that a person has an Internet access.
“When we talk about addiction, it is often based on mental disorders. Anxiety, depression, fear and incontinence – all these can explain the Internet addiction”, – claims professor of clinical psychiatry at Tufts University Ronald W. Pies.
Pies set forth his arguments in the article Internet Addicts Get First U.S. Treatment Clinic that was published in 2009 on the scientific resource Live Science.
“The question is whether we need to change classification in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) if the Internet addiction symptoms can be already included in the well studied and registered mental disorders”, – Ronald Pies continues.
However it does not mean that Pies excludes the possibility of dependence that is based on the fact that a person has Internet access. It rather means that the study of Internet addiction phenomenon requires more scientific research.
“Eventually we can return to the thesis that Internet addiction is a discrete mental disorder. But the study of this problem requires more thorough research – the research that will study Internet addiction not as separate phenomenon, but in the context of family life dissatisfaction, hereditary factors, related medical and biological circumstances and reaction on the treatment”, – summarizes Pies.
- To distract yourself you may keep a diary (or your own blog, but it is better to buy paper dairy where you can write something without using computer). When you feel irresistible desire to say something on Facebook, write your thought down in your dairy. You can develop your thought and write whatever you want and what would not fit in the form of status updates on Facebook (or something that could upset your friends and relatives). In such a way you can know yourself better, because in the Internet you are just artificial surface image.
- Surprisingly, but even some psychotherapists who are supposed to help people to overcome their addiction, become addicted themselves!
- It is possible to overcome the addiction. You might need help, so do not hesitate to receive help and help others.
So Facebook addiction is a common phenomenon today. I hope this essay on Facebook addiction helped you to understand that there are much more important things in our life than social networks. Look around and see how much beautiful real life is!
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