BERGEN, Norway — Psychologists from the University of Bergen in Norway have developed a new way to measure Facebook addiction.
Signs that online networking may be an addiction include using Facebook as a means to forget about personal problems, becoming restless when Facebook access is prohibited or using Facebook so much it has a negative impact on real-life responsibilities, according to the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, which was recently published in the journal Psychological Reports.
Unsuccessful attempts to cut back on Facebook may also point to a problem, researchers concluded. Spending a lot of time thinking about Facebook use, such as composing status updates or planning photo posts, is another warning sign.
To develop the scale, researchers studied 423 Facebook users for signs of addictive behavior. Some participants demonstrated symptoms similar to those exhibited by drug and alcohol addicts.
Younger people are more likely to be addicted to Facebook, researchers found. Women are more at risk than men.
“We have also found that people who are anxious and socially insecure use Facebook more than those with lower scores on those traits, probably because those who are anxious find it easier to communicate via social media than face-to-face,” Cecilie Schou Andreassen, who headed up the research, told Psych Central. "People who are organized and more ambitious tend to be less at risk for Facebook addiction. They will often use social media as an integral part of work and networking."
Facebook gets one of out every five Internet page views in the United States, according to Experian Hitwise. Four percent of online searches are for "Facebook," making it the no. 1 searched term.
Online search volume based on finding help for Facebook addiction is growing faster than some offline addictions, including sex addiction, according to trends analytics company The Internet Time Machine.
"The rise in interest around terms centered around 'Facebook addiction' is off the charts," said Internet Time Machine founder Curt Dalton in a news release.
Take a free Facebook addiction quiz using the Bergen Scale.
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