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How Much Damage Can Facebook Addiction Cause?

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Although Facebook can be a great way to connect with and keep in touch with friends and family, spending too much time on the social media site can be detrimental to one’s health, social life, and more. This warning is no longer just one being shouted out by concerned parents. In fact, Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD) is one of the latest conditions exploding in psychiatric research and affects approximately 350 million social media users. Tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, and reduction of normal social and recreational activities are the top three criteria that affect those with the condition.

Facebook Addiction Disorder

Facebook is overpowering especially in that it can easily take away from the time people would otherwise spend doing useful things if the social media monster didn’t exist. Teens especially tend to get caught up in meeting new people online. When they should be out interacting with peers they’ve met at school or through mutual friends, they’re scheduling virtual dates, often with people they might not even know, and accepting friend requests from people who may have made fake accounts—the next two criteria for FAD. The news is full of Internet horror stories of young kids giving away personal information to stalkers on Facebook, people killing themselves over what others are saying about them on Facebook, and other ridiculous scenarios, all a result of Facebook.

“See You on Facebook”

The sixth and final criterion for FAD is complete addiction, wherein when people meet others in real life, they end the conversation with, “I’ll see you on Facebook,” for example. According to psychologist Dr. Cecilie Schou Andreassen, “People who are anxious and socially insecure use Facebook more than those with lower scores on those traits, probably because those who are anxious find it easier to communicate via social media than face-to-face.” Ending a conversation with “See you on Facebook!” is already turning what could be a real social life into a virtual one, and unfortunately for those who are insecure, this lowers the potential of them making a new real-life friend.

Quitting Facebook Addiction

For one young girl, Caroline Hocking, Facebook became “a demanding and anti-social addiction.” After being a member of the social media site for two years, Hocking decided to quit cold turkey. It was harder than she thought. She had spent her days and nights creeping friends’ profiles, checking out potential love interests, sharing countless status updates, and “meeting” hundreds of online friends—overall, her “favourite waste of time.” Before quitting, getting off Facebook to attend to normal activities proved very difficult. Every time she stepped away from the computer, she’d suffer a bad case of separation anxiety—certainly not healthy for a teenager who already has to deal with the stress of homework, peer pressure, and more. She even missed out on a long-awaited reunion with an old friend because she was too busy on Facebook—it is stories like these that give the social media site a bad name for actually being detrimental to users’ social lives.

Effects of FB Addiction

Many people jokingly say they are “addicted” to Facebook, but what does this really mean? Facebook is more than just a social media phenomenon. In fact, according to the results of the “Facebook Addiction” project by the University of Bergen in Norway, “Facebook dependency produces symptoms similar to those seen in alcohol and substance addictions.” In an additional study, researchers at the University of Chicago discovered that Facebook could in fact be more addicting. Although urges to sleep or have sex are much stronger, the urge to use Facebook is one desire that people are more likely to give in to despite that it might negatively affect important aspects of their life, such as their health, social life, and studies.

Overall, Facebook addiction can be a serious problem. In fact, Facebook recently admitted on its official page that too much Facebook probably isn’t healthy: “Birthday cakes are made for people to be together. They give friends a place to gather and celebrate. But too much cake probably isn’t healthy. So, birthday cake is a lot like Facebook.” Despite it being an odd status update by the massive social media company, it certainly shows that Facebook’s negative qualities have hit home. If you know someone who may be getting sucked a bit too far into social media, remind them that enjoying Facebook is like enjoying birthday cake—moderation is key to their health.