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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Facebook Addiction

I am one of the content experts for Addicted.com, a great resource for addiction recovery. I received a recent question regarding Facebook addiction. I am receiving more email on this issue lately so I thought I would repost my answer.

Facebook has become an indispensable way to find old friends, schedule events, play games and even send virtual gifts. But if you’re doing more living online than off, it might be time to reassess. Many students (and adults) are now seeing Facebook more as an addiction than a networking tool, and psychologists are starting to agree.

Ask yourself some of the following questions: Are personal relationships taking a backseat to Facebook? Do you think about Facebook even when you’re offline? Do you use Facebook to escape problems or homework? Do you stay on Facebook longer than intended? Have you ever concealed Facebook use?

If you answered yes to any, you might be a borderline addict. Frequent Facebook visits actually cause something psychologists refer to as intermittent reinforcement. Notifications, messages and invites reward you with an unpredictable high, much like gambling. That anticipation can get dangerously addictive. It is an entire world where one can easily be seduced and sucked in. I have many friends who consider it a time-waster yet they are on it everyday. A few tips for cutting down your Facebook habit is first, keep a log to track your Facebook usage. If you’re shocked by what you see, try the following:

List your Facebook goals. Why did you originally sign up? Is your goal to network? Is your goal to have 5,000 friends? Are these people that you really need to keep in touch with?

Record what you actually do on Facebook. How many times to check status updates of friends? How many notifications do you receive? How much time do you search for new friends on People Search or Classmate search? Facebook can be a time-consuming activity if you let it. Once you see how much you do certain activities you will be able to use that as a baseline to control and moderate your usage.

Make a Facebook schedule. Limit time to maintaining your original goals. Update your e-mail addresses to avoid relying on Facebook messages.Only check it once a day. These are ways to unhook yourself from the behavior without having to completely remove Facebook from your life