Hi, I’m the 21st Century & I’m addicted to Facebook
New data published by researchers at the California State University, USA suggests Facebook addiction affects the brain in a similar way to cocaine or gambling addiction.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Psychological Reports: Disability and Trauma, claims the brain of a human who constantly uses Facebook reacts similarly to that of an individual with a dependence on gambling or cocaine.
The researchers asked 20 university undergraduates to complete an online questionnaire and an image response analysis, to examine the symptoms similar to addiction experienced by Facebook users, including feelings of withdrawal and anxiety.
The withdrawal and anxiety side-effects experienced by regular Facebook users were similar to those experienced by individuals with a gambling or substance addiction. Although these side-effects or markers for addiction did not negatively hinder individuals in the same manner as gambling or substance abuse, the researchers cited their concern over the participants responding faster to Facebook images than road signs.
In an online article published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the study’s co-author, Professor Ofir Turel, USA said, “This is scary when you think about it, since it means that users might respond to a Facebook message on their mobile device before reacting to traffic conditions if they are using technology while on the road.”
Since its introduction in 2004, Facebook has witnessed staggering growth, with approximately 1.55 billion people now using Facebook worldwide. Previous research links Facebook use with anxiety, depression and reduced social skills, which should prompt Facebook users to measure their level of addiction to ensure their protection from associated health risks.
So how do you measure your addiction to Facebook?
In 2012, researchers from the University of Bergen, Norway developed the ‘Bergen Scale’ tool to measure humans’ addiction to Facebook, allowing people to measure how each statement applies to themselves on a scale of frequency (1) very rarely to (5) very often. The scale is based on the following criteria:
- Time thinking and planning Facebook use;
- The desire or urge to increase Facebook use;
- Using Facebook to forget about personal problems;
- History of failure to withdraw from Facebook;
- Feeling of restlessness or anxiety if prohibited from using Facebook; and
- The negative affects of Facebook use on your job/studies.
The tool clearly highlights the severity of one’s Facebook addiction, and allows the individual to create a plan of action to beat their obsession.
With social media becoming one of our leading sources of communication in the 21st century, people are encouraged to develop strategies to monitor and manage their use of the medium, in order to avoid the development of a dependence and associated psychological problems. It’s all about learning to manage and monitor one’s Facebook use.