June 7, 2012

Can you be addicted to Facebook?

Norwegian researcher Cecilie Schou Andreassen says, according to a recent article in The Atlantic, that people who can’t get enough of the social network Facebook show many of the same signs associated with gambling addiction. These signs can include mood swings and signs of withdrawal.

Andreassen said to The Atlantic in an email that Facebook users fit the criteria of addiction in other areas too, even though it is not a chemical addiction. She said this is because all addictions, whether they are chemical or non-chemical, appear to have six core components.

They include the following, she says:

(1) salience (the activity dominates thinking and behavior)

(2) mood modification (the activity modifies/improves mood),

(3) tolerance (increasing amounts of the activity are required to achieve initial effects),

(4) withdrawal (occurrence of unpleasant feelings when the activity is discontinued or suddenly reduced),

(5) conflict (the activity causes conflicts in social relationships and other activities), and

(6) relapse (tendency for reversion to earlier patterns of the activity after abstinence or control).

To measure the addiction, six questions were accessed relating to each of the above components. The questions can be found on The Atlantic.

But not all are convinced. A British psychologist at Nottingham Trent University, Mark Griffiths, says the idea of Facebook addiction is in a word, too broad.  

“The real issue here concerns […] what people are actually addicted [to],” Griffiths writes in the latest issue of Psychological Reports. “Facebook addiction as a term may already be obsolete because there are many activities that a person can engage in on the medium.”

Click here to read the full article in The Atlantic.

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