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People obsessed with social media may have deeper addiction problems. Image ©Dollarphoto.com/vitabello

Is Social Media the New Addiction?

It’s 10:15 in the morning.

How many times have you checked Facebook today?

It’s not enough that social media can leave us feeling depressed, lonely or envious. Now we have to worry about Facebook and other forms of social media becoming an addiction.

With more than two billion active social media users worldwide—a global penetration of 28 percent, social media gives rise to a new set of issues and problems including addiction.

According to GoGlode, social networking accounts for 28% of all media times spent online. Users between ages of 15 to 19 spend at least 3 hours a day on average on social media. Users between the ages of 20 to 29 spend about two hours a day. That adds up to 39,757 years of our time collectively spent on Facebook in a single day. That is a lot of time spent making ourselves feel worse about life.

The site also estimates that the average American spends nearly one quarter of their workday browsing social media for non-work related activities. Of those who use social media, 18% can’t go a few hours without checking Facebook.

In a Forbes article, Dr. Shannon M. Rauch, of Benedictine University at Mesa, AZ, says people often use social media as a form of self-distraction and boredom relief.

“For those who post status updates, the reinforcements keep coming in the form of supportive comments and ‘likes.’ And of course we know that behaviors that are consistently reinforced will be repeated, so it becomes hard for a person who has developed this habit to simply stop.”

To measure the addictive possibilities of social media, Norwegian researchers have published the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale. The scale focuses on six basic criteria associated with additive behavior. Participants in the study were asked to choose one of the following responses: (1) Very rarely, (2) Rarely, (3) Sometimes, (4) Often, (5) Very often, to each of the questions.

1. You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or planning how to use it.

2. You feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.

3. You use Facebook in order to forget about personal problems.


4. You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without success.


5. You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using Facebook.


6. You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies.

In an MNT report, one of the study’s authors, Dr. Cecilie Andraessen says, “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.”

The study also found that women are more likely to develop a Facebook addiction. However, people who are more organized and ambitious are less likely to become addicted and instead use social media as a networking tool.