Signs of Facebook addiction.
Facebook addiction is a problem not only in the United States, but all over the world. CNN wrote about this very subject in 2009 and although Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD) is not an official medical term yet, those in the addiction and mental health fields are seeing more and more of it. Even without Facebook Addiction Disorder a recognizable medical diagnosis, FutureLab says that you can be diagnosed with this addiction if you meet at least 2-3 of the following criteria during a span of 6-8 months:
1. Tolerance Level. Users will have a "need" to spend more and more time on Facebook in order to feel happy or satisfied. Spending less time than one would like on Facebook will produce feelings of depression, inadequacy, and irritability. A Facebook Addict will also start to feel withdrawl if their Facebook use does not increase over a period of time. What started out as an hour a day will no longer be enough... and the user may end up several months later spending 8 hours a day on the social networking site.
Addicts usually have several Facebook windows open at the same time.
2. Distress. When addicts attempt to lessen their use of Facebook, they will also suffer from social, personal, and occupational distress. FutureLab says that many Facebook users will wonder why their internet browser is working so fast after reducing or eliminating time spent on Facebook. While most people would view a faster browser as a good thing, Facebook Addicts seem preoccupied with this meaning that something is wrong or missing. They will then have feelings of anxiety and begin to think obsessively about what is written on their Wall on Facebook or how many Farmville gifts have they received since they last checked in.
3. Difficulty with Face-to-Face Interactions. Facebook addicts spend so much time networking or playing on the social networking site that they can actually forget how to socialize face-to-face. To deal with their impaired social skills, they stop answering the phone and insist that all of their personal and work contacts contact them directly on Facebook.
4. Missing Events. Facebook Addicts will begin to miss meals, doctors appointments, and other important events. They will start to arrive late to work, then eventually they will start to have a window open on their computer with their Facebook page. Employees seem to even do this when there is a "No Social Networking" policy in place.
5. Everything Facebook. Addicts will insist that everything be done on Facebook. Making appointments, talking with your mom, and even funeral arrangements must all be done on Facebook. Addicts will constantly refresh their page looking for new posts to their Wall several times a day.
An old friend of mine is a Facebook Addict, although she refuses to admit to it. She spends at least 12 hours a day on the social networking site, usually playing games such as Farmville, Country Life, and Farm Town. Although she does drive her daughter to school and pick her sons up from work, the rest of the time is on Facebook. She conquered this problem of being away from her computer by switching phone carriers from Pocket to Boost. Her new cell phone allows her to receive Facebook updates, messages, and Wall posts over the phone.
I realized that she had a serious problem when she would call me on the phone or if I happened to stop by her house, all she will talk about is Facebook games. She even suggested we play Facebook games while I had her family over for dinner! She started idolizing certain people because "they know SO MUCH about Farmville."
When I first joined Facebook, she became angry that I was not advancing levels on the games as quickly as she was (advancing levels allows you to gift better items.) Quite frankly, I didn't have the time. When I told her that I had to work on my writing and that I cannot spend more than an hour a day on Facebook and was not going to spend all my time playing games, she became angry and called me names.
Facebook Addiction can happen quickly or over a period of time. Addicts may disguise it as "networking," but no matter what they use Facebook for, it can become a serious problem. While their is no San Antonio support group for Facebook addiction, rest assured with the millions of people who are developing this problem, that there will be one soon.