Are you addicted to Facebook?

Alicia Lozano,

WASHINGTON – Food. Gambling. Sex. Drugs. People can be addicted to almost anything, including Facebook, according to a recent study.

Norwegian researcher Cecilie Schou Andreassen says some people who frequently use the social networking website can show the same signs of addiction associated with gambling.

The symptoms can be diagnosed by answering six basic questions:

  • Do you spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook?
  • Does Facebook use affect your mood?
  • Do you feel the urge to use Facebook more and more?
  • If you can’t log on, do you become irritable or restless?
  • Do you use Facebook so much that it negatively impacts other parts of your life?
  • Have you tried to cut down on social networking only to find that you can’t stay away?

Not everyone agrees with this litmus test. Critics say the idea of Facebook addiction is too broad a term.

“Facebook addiction is a catch-all for not only Facebook, but for social networking in general,” says Brian Fung, who wrote on the topic for The Atlantic. “Because so much activity happens on Facebook, the Facebook addiction doesn’t really tell us very much.”

Mark Griffiths, a British psychologist at Nottingham Trent University, recently tackled the question of Facebook addiction in the latest issue of Psychological Reports. He said that the notion of Facebook addiction is not only too broad, it can also be limiting.

“There is a fundamental difference between addictions to the Internet and addictions on the Internet,” Griffiths wrote.

In his Atlantic piece, Fung likens this to alcoholism and bars. A person with a drinking problem wouldn’t say that he is addicted to bars when, in fact, he is addicted to alcohol.

The bottom line is “everything in moderation,” says Fung.

“If you think you might be using Facebook a little too much, you’d do well to consult [Andreassen’s] questions to find out,” he says.

Follow Alicia Lozano and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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