Facebook Addicts Anonymous: A Self-Help Guide to Beating Your Addiction

1 Jun

We all have those “friends,” the ones that post their every thought and every move on Facebook. Their status updates take over your News Feed and you can’t help but shake your head at their obvious obsession with the social media website. You look at the clock and realize that you have been on Facebook for over an hour. You then go onto your own profile, and realize that you are also guilty of documenting your life on the website.

Now, you’re probably expecting me to say that I was describing myself just now. However, my own Facebook use has declined due to a lack of spare time and, honestly, just sheer annoyance with the “friends” I described above. However, when I do decide to log on, I can’t help but notice how much time some people spend on the social media giant.

To what extent is Facebook taking over people’s lives? How can you tell if you’re a “Facebook Addict”? How can you get over your addiction? Keep reading and find out.

Facebook: The Facts

With over 500,000,000 members around the world, Facebook has become a global phenomenon. To put that into perspective, if Facebook was a country, it would be the third largest in terms of population. If that fact doesn’t shock you, then maybe some of these ones will:

  • Facebook is the website with the second highest traffic, after Google
  • On average, a user spends 8 hours on Facebook each month, compared to 2 hours on Google
  • On average, users create 90 pieces of content per month
  • 48% of users aged 18 to 34 check Facebook right after waking up
  • 61% of users under 25, and 55% of those over 25 check Facebook at least once per day

A study by Retrevo found that 27% of users under 25 and 20% of those over 25 sometimes check Facebook when they wake up during the night. Also, 16% of users said that they get the news from the website.

Still not convinced that people are obsessed with the website? Another study of British citizens found that 1 in 5 prefer to speak with people online, rather than in person or over the telephone.

Are You An Addict?

While it seems so farfetched that someone could actually become addicted to a website, being a psychology student makes me realize that we can become addicted to pretty much anything if we spend excessive amounts of time with it. As of yet, an addiction to Facebook hasn’t officially been recognized as a clinical disorder, although an obsession with it is common.

Keeping this in mind, it’s important that people be able to recognize when their love of Facebook has become problematic. According to CNN, the signs of Facebook addiction include:

  • Lack of sleep because of Facebook
  • Spending more than 1 hour per day on Facebook
  • Becoming “obsessed with old loves”
  • Your work suffers
  • You dread getting off Facebook 

All of these signs are pretty self-explanatory in terms of why they would be a problem. The Daily Mind provides some more signs, just in case you need more evidence to convince you that you might have a problem:

  • You think about Facebook, even when you’re not on it
  • You’re late for things because of Facebook
  • Other people tell you that you’re spending too much time on it
  • You check Facebook from your mobile device
  • Facebook causes you stress

Researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway came up with a set of six questions that allow you to determine for yourself if you are a Facebook “addict”. I decided to take the test and see where I stand. I scored 7 out of 30, almost the lowest score you can get. Although that’s not surprising, seeing as I don’t spend much time on the website anymore. I do, however, have many “friends” that would probably score much higher than a 7. What was your score?

What’s the Big Deal?

Maybe by now you realize that you might be addicted to your favourite website. But what’s the big deal anyways? The same study by the University of Bergen found that women, young people, and those who are anxious and insecure are at higher risk of becoming addicted to Facebook. But that doesn’t mean all you male, older, and confident users can’t have a problem too. One of my most obsessed “friends” is an older, male family member, who is definitely confident. So keep reading.

An obvious consequence is that these people are spending more time on their computer, and less time interacting with people in person. While this is a consequence in and of itself, one study found that because of this, young people are actually feeling lonely. The study even found that 60% of the respondents had difficulty forming friendships in real life. In addressing this issue, Julie Peasgood, a relationship expert, brought up a good point: “You can’t hug a Facebook friend.”

Another consequence affects those Facebook users that are in college or university. A study found that they “spend less time studying and have lower grades,” although a causal link wasn’t established.

Recovery Process:

If you’ve come to diagnose yourself as a Facebook “addict,” it’s time to get you some help. The first step to recovery, like with any addiction, is admitting that you have a problem. Repeat after me: “My name is __________, and I’m addicted to Facebook”. Now that that’s settled, what can you do to get over your obsession, without having to seek professional help? The Daily Mind provides some more tips:

  • Keep a log of the time you spend on Facebook – it shows you the extent of your problem
  • Set a time limit for your visits to the website – you will still get your fix, but you won’t go overboard
  • Disable email notifications – it gets rid of the constant reminder
  • Turn off your computer – that way you can spend time doing something else
  • Think of the things you used to do before your “addiction” started – you can “reconnect” with your old life
  • Block Facebook – that way, you literally can’t go on it

Well, there you have it – you’re cured! Now you can spend your time doing something really productive – like all that work you were putting off. Maybe I should post a link to this blog on my own Facebook. I’m sure it would prove useful to at least one of my “friends.”

Below is a video segment from ABC News that reiterates many of the concerns and tips stated in this blog.

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