This is your brain on Facebook: You can’t stop thinking about uploading the latest photos of yourself and your compulsion to hit the “like” button is interfering with your work.
It may sound laughable, but psychologists at the University of Bergen in Norway have come up with six questions designed to detect full-blown Facebook addiction.
The idea is to answer the following questions on a scale from 1 (“very rarely”) to 5 (“very often”):
- You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or plan use of Facebook.
- You feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.
- You use Facebook in order to forget about personal problems.
- You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without success.
- You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using Facebook.
- You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies.
According to researchers, scoring “often” or “very often” on at least four of the six items could mean you’re a Facebook junkie.
The symptoms of Facebook addiction resemble those of drug addiction, alcohol addiction and substance abuse, according to psychologist Cecilie Schou Andreassen, who heads the Facebook addiction research group at the University of Bergen.
And in today’s wired world, going cold turkey could be tough on a person’s social life.
The researchers found that Facebook addiction is more common among younger users, especially women, who are anxious and socially insecure.
By contrast, ambitious types who use Facebook mainly for work and networking are at lower risk for dependency, according to the study.
Although the Bergen scale is the first to be scientifically validated, Facebook addiction tests have proliferated online, including a true-or-false version with 30 statements such as, “I often confuse what someone has told me ‘in real life’ and what was said on Facebook.”
For the hardcore addicts, however, self-help tips, such as designating a Facebook-free day each week, are probably doomed to failure.
The only effective treatment may be (gasp!) to deactivate that Facebook account – and sign up for therapy.
Do you know anyone who shows signs of Facebook addiction? How would you go about staging an intervention?