By Margarita Nahapetyan
Norwegian psychologists have created a Facebook Addiction Scale test, according to which women are at higher risk of developing unhealthy dependence to social networking.
The University of Bergen scientists studied 423 college students (196 males and 227 females), and looked for symptoms of addictive behavior in the way young people felt and thought about Facebook. A special chart of symptoms had been designed to signal whether a person showed clear signs of unhealthy devotion to social networking, similar to those that are exhibited by individuals who are addicted to alcohol, drugs and other chemical substances.
Psychologists came to the conclusion that younger generation was more likely to become dependent from Facebook when compared to their older counterparts, and women were more addicted than men. It was also revealed that those individuals who experienced anxiety problems and those who felt socially insecure, were hooked up on Facebook much more than all the others. The experts explained that it could be happening because for such people it is much easier to use technology in order to communicate with others rather than socializing face to face. As to extroverted people, they were found to be at greater risk of being addicted to social networking website, while well organized and ambitious people used the site mostly for work or networking purposes.
The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale test is based on six main criteria, where all the answers are scored according to the following scale: a) Very rarely; b) Rarely; c) Sometimes; d) Often and e) Very often. The signs are as follows:
Spending too much time thinking about Facebook or planning about using the website;
Feeling an urge to use the social networking site more and more often;
Socializing through Facebook in order to forget about personal problems;
Trying to decrease the time being spent on Facebook without any success;
Feeling nervous or restless when not being able or being prohibited from using the website;
Using Facebook to such extent that it has a negative impact on your studies or work.
Participants who answered "often" or "very often" to at least four questions out of the six, are most probably addicted to Facebook, said Cecilie Schou Andreassen, Doctor of Psychology who was involved in the study. And the same way as alcohol and drugs, Facebook addiction has become increasingly common, Andreassen warned, explaining that in this case it is "a subdivision of Internet addiction connected to social media."
According to Ronald W. Pies, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Tufts University, very often people suffer from psychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or are experiencing problems in interpersonal relationships, all of which could be related to Internet addiction. However, Dr. Pies believes that more and better studies are needed on the matter in order to get final answers. Psychologists may eventually come to the conclusion that Internet addiction is a discrete mental disorder, he said, but for that a thorough and very carefully conducted research will be needed, research that will be aimed at linking Internet addiction with genetic factors, biological concomitants and responses to specific treatments.
The results are published in the Psychological Reports journal.