You know there’s a problem when people are throwing around the idea that there is such a thing called Facebook addiction. And it’s not really far-fetched, as Facebook is indeed addictive, and takes up a lot of your time online. The question is if it’s bad enough to mention it in the same breath as sex addiction, video game addiction and all those examples of excessive behaviours widely considered as genuine addictions.
According to Dr. Mark D. Griffiths, Chartered Psychologist and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit in the Psychology Division at Nottingham Trent University (UK), any behaviour that fulfils what he calls the six core components of addiction can be already called an addiction. Let’s talk about those core components one by one and let’s see if they are applicable vis-à-vis your Facebook usage.
A person can be called an addict if a particular substance, behaviour, or activity becomes the single most important thing in his or her life. When you give more priority to your time on Facebook than with other more important stuff like your work or your family, then there is a very high likelihood that you, indeed, are a Facebook addict.
2. Mood modification
So you’re having a really bad day. Normally, people go out, talk with friends and loved ones, or just generally have fun to get their minds off whatever issue is at hand. However, if your idea of de-stressing, escaping, or numbing yourself is spending hours ranting on Facebook, then you are essentially using Facebook to modify your mood, and that is an indication that you might be addicted to the social networking site.
When one regularly uses a particular substance for a certain period of time, it is but normal for him or her to develop a tolerance to that drug, which means he or she has to have more of it, in larger dosages, to get that feeling of “high” or “buzz”. You’re probably addicted to Facebook if your Facebook use increases over time. For example, if you started out using Facebook for just an hour a day, but now you’re looking at 4-6 hours of Facebook day in and day out just to feel better, you are very likely to be addicted to Facebook.
4. Withdrawal symptoms
Let’s say that your parents or your spouse noticed that you have been spending a lot more time on Facebook, and they decided to intervene and limit your Facebook use in one way or another. Do you become moody or irritable with the lack or even absence of Facebook time? Do you resent any of the people who knowingly restricted or stop your Facebook use? Are you experiencing any other unpleasant physical and emotional symptom that arose from your now limited or non-existent Facebook time? If the answer to all three questions is a yes, you are most likely a Facebook addict.
Resenting the people who intervened, limited, or stopped your Facebook use is an indication that your Facebook use is more than just a simple fixation. When you allow even more conflict into your life because of this issue, it’s almost certain that you are suffering from Facebook addiction. You shun them, yell at them, and even blame them for every single thing that’s happened in your life. You also neglect work and all your other hobbies right to the point where everything goes out of control.
Assuming that you have been allowed access to Facebook again after a period of abstinence, do you immediately revert to your excessive Facebook usage? Unfortunately, that is what many addicts do after treatment. Relapse is a sad fact of addiction treatment, and when you suffer one after being prevented from using Facebook for some time—then you are most certainly already addicted to Facebook addict.
Behavioural addiction in all its forms—Facebook addiction included—should be given more serious attention by medical professionals. Although no definitive study has yet been made that will declare once and for all that Facebook addiction is indeed a certifiable addiction, and therefore a disease, the fact that there are signs that could fulfil Dr. Griffith’s six core components of addiction means Facebook addiction may indeed be real.
So what are your thoughts? Is Facebook a certifiable disease? Do you know anyone with Facebook addiction?