Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Twitter, Instagram… the list is endless. Millions are addicted. The Government tells us that our time-wasting internet addictions are costing the country billions of dollars every year. Our productivity at work is dismal because we spend most of the day reading our Fun Wall or checking out our favorite blogs. Can this additive behavior be beaten?
The answer is yes.
Now lets ask simple question, How often do you update your facebook status?
b) A few times a year
c) Once a month or so
d) A few times a month
e) A few times a week
f) A few times a day
If the answer to that question is e) and f) then you are facebook addict. And if d) then you are leading to become one.
Facebook Addiction — The 6 Symptoms of FB addiction
“Okay, I admit it. I am truly addicted to Facebook,” said teenage blogger Heidi Barry-Rodriquez in 2007. In 2009, teen Neeka Salmasi described the social networking giant as being “like an addiction”. This year, a casino site mentioned that “Facebook provides the atmosphere where it is tough to walk away” in a direct comparison to gambling addiction. A quick web search and it becomes appallingly evident that we have a problem. Text messaging is no longer the biggest teenage obsession, and long gone are the days where the biggest worries for parents were celebrity crushes, massive phone bills from ridiculously long phone calls and chocolate overloads. These teenage obsessions still exist, but in today’s day and age, and in comparison to the Facebook craze, they seem rather insignificant. Infact, a recent victim (can we call it so ?!) Hussein Chinru lost his girl friend of 6 years to facebook in the end of 2011, he was mobile FB addicted.
Facebook is taking over the world, and that’s no exaggeration. Everyone from eager-to-fit-in tweens to educated business people to intrigued grandparents has joined the phenomenon, and unsurprisingly many teenagers have also caught Facebook fever. And like with many of the latest attention-grabbing trends, some teenagers can go a little overboard when participating in them. Perhaps we join Facebook because everyone has an account and, as teenagers, the need to fit in is just too great, or perhaps there’s just a special something that has helped the social networking site attract so many million people. Teenagers have a tendency to become obsessive with the ‘in’ thing and Facebook, the trend of the decade, is no exception; the question is, have we overdone in? And is there really such thing as Facebook addiction?
An American psychologist believes so. In fact, he’s even introduced a term to describe such an addiction. FAD, or Facebook Addiction Disorder, is a condition that is defined by hours spent on Facebook, so much time in fact that the healthy balance of the individual’s life is affected. It has been said that approximately 350 million people are suffering from the disorder that is detected through a simple set of six-criteria. People who are victims of the condition must have at least 2-3 of the following criteria during a 6-8 month time period.
Tolerance: This term is used to describe the desperate behavior of a Facebook addict. They spend an increasing amount of time on the site, coming to a stage where they need it in order to obtain satisfaction or on the other extreme, it is having a detrimental affect on them as a person and their life. For the family members and friends who think they are dealing with an addict, a sign to look out for are multiple Facebook windows open. Three or more confirms that they are indeed suffering from this condition.
Withdrawal symptoms: These become obvious when one is restricted from using Facebook because they have to participate in normal everyday activities. Common signs are anxiety, distress and the need to talk about Facebook and what might have been posted on their wall in their absence.
Reduction of normal social/recreational activities: Someone suffering from FAD will reduce the time spent catching up with friends, playing sport or whatever it is they used to enjoy doing, to simply spend time on Facebook. Instead of catching up with a friend for coffee, they will send a Facebook message. A dinner date will be substituted with a messenger chat. In extreme cases, the person will even stop answering their parent’s phone calls, instead insisting that they use Facebook to contact them.
Virtual dates: It is obvious that things are extreme when real dates are replaced with virtual dates. Instead of going to the movies or out to dinner, they tell their partner to be online at a certain time.
Fake friends: If 8 out of 10 people shown on their Facebook page are complete strangers, it is undeniable: they have a serious case of FAD. And especially those who pose as female hiding their masculinity.
Complete addiction: When they meet new people, they say their name, followed by “I’ll talk to you on Facebook”, or for those who are extremely bad, “I’ll see you in Facebook”. Their pets have Facebook pages, and any notifications, wall posts, inboxes or friend requests that they receive give them a high, one which can be compared to that gambling addicts get from the pokies or roulette table.
So someone believes that addiction to the net is a real condition that needs to be treated just like any other addiction, with care and caution, but is an obsession with Facebook a real condition, or is FAD really just the latest fad?
Either way, Facebook obsessions are definitely present in today’s society and whether it is a disorder or not, something needs to be done to fix it. Forget the fancy name and look at the facts. Many people, teenagers in particular, are spending too much time online. People’s lives are being affected because of the hours spent looking at profiles and pictures. Facebook, very beneficial in some ways, is having a detrimental affect on the everyday behaviors of people around the world. Having seen the affects of too much time online firsthand, I know this to be true. Nobody can possibly disagree when the facts speak for themselves and when an individual’s online ‘life’ becomes more important than their real one, we know that there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
But, what to do about it? How can we possibly fix a problem that has affected more than a third of the world’s population? That is a question I can’t answer, but I do know that our parents can play an important role, well, that is if the addicted is still young enough to be influenced by their parents. There are two kinds of parents in my area, both from different ends of the spectrum. On one side we have the Facebook haters, the parents who don’t have Facebook, don’t understand Facebook and never want to understand Facebook. On the other side, we have the Facebook lovers, those who act more like their teenage children than their parents. They’ve befriended their kids online, participate in their online conversations, comment on their photos and send messages from the lounge room to the bedroom instead of just walking up the hallway and keeping matters that should be kept private, well, private. Don’t believe me? I completely understand. It definitely sounds strange. But the truth is I actually know people like this and well I can only conclude one thing: that these parents, in an attempt to be their teen’s friend rather than their parent, have also been swept up in the Facebook craze and are now suffering from a similar sort of addiction. The apple really does never land far from the tree.
I’m not sure what the experts say about the treatment of such conditions, but I do know one thing; like with all mental disorders, there will be no easy fix. I think that to begin with we all need to take a good look at ourselves and our behavior. If you’re Facebook time is eating into your social time, or your sport time, or your study time, something has gone seriously wrong. You need to go back and readjust, because to keep a healthy balance is the key to a happy, healthy life. It won’t be easy, and it certainly won’t happen overnight, but eventually we are going to be forced to fix this Facebook overload and cure the entire world of FAD. One can only hope.
In the further part of the article I want to give you some simple and concrete ways to beat your time wasting internet addiction.
Facebook Syndrome: Lets come back to again How to tell if you are an internet addict
Before we start you need to find out if you are an addict. Once you have admitted to yourself that you are addicted to your favorite website we can go about giving you some solutions for that problem. Here are some surefire signs that you are addicted:
1. You are late for meetings because you are on Facebook
If you ever late for a meeting or an appointment because you were checking your updates on Facebook or watching a related video on Youtube then you know you are addicted. This is classic addict behavior. It is time to get help.
2. You think about it when you are offline
I have several friends who struggle to get to sleep because they are thinking about the latest game or wondering how their website statistics are looking. If you do this then it could be a sign that you are heading towards a problem.
3. Your friends and family comment on your excessive internet use
When other people around you start to notice that you have a problem it is generally a pretty accurate indicator that you are losing it. If your mates, coworkers or family members have made comments about how much you use the net then you need to read the rest of this post.
4. You check your accounts from your Blackberry
A Blackberry is designed as a business tool. It is supposed to allow you to check your important emails and work materials without having to be in the office. It is not for checking Facebook or Myspace updates while you are having dinner with me. That is just not on. If you use your Blackberry for monitoring your social media accounts then you need help.
5. You get stressed when a Facebook “friend” doesn’t add you
Have you ever noticed yourself getting stressed over something that has happened on Facebook or Myspace? Do you ever feel like your online life is more real than your offline life? If you have been stressed about what rapper you turned out as or what magic egg someone sent you then it is time to open your eyes.
How to easily beat time wasting internet addictions
Now that you have established that you have a problem you need to get yourself some recovery tools. The strategies and tools that are presented here are some simple ways you can beat the Facebook Syndrome.
1. Admit that you have a problem
I want you to take a deep breath and then repeat after me. Seriously, repeat this out a loud – even if you are in your office or an internet cafe.
“I have an internet addiction problem.”
Good. Now that you have acknowledged your problem we can proceed. There is no point in trying to beat an addiction if you do not seriously believe that you have one. This is important.
2. Write down exactly how much time you spend on each site
This task is more difficult than you might think. Usually we have a work window open, a Facebook window open and then maybe some windows with our favorite blogs waiting for them to update. What you need to do is close the windows and only open them once you have written the time. Then when you close the window you need to write the time down again. At the end of the day add up how much time you have been on your chosen site and record it in a little book.
The reason it is important to know how long you have been on the sites is because it gives you a solid measure of how bad your addiction is. Recovering gamblers do the same thing. They write how much money they spend in a day. We need to write down our Facebook hours!
After a few days, weeks and months this number should decrease.
3. Give yourself a set time of the day to visit
We need to realize that spending time on these sites is not a bad thing. Done in the right amounts it can be a lot of fun and even quite healthy. However, if you start to notice that your law school assignment is still not done because you have been watching Tom Cruise’s Scientology rant on Youtube all night then it has gone beyond a joke.
Instead of banning the site altogether why not give yourself a set period of time to visit? For example, you might give yourself the first 20 minutes of the work day you check all your updates and then not log on for the rest of the day. Or you might decide that the last 30 minutes of work is Myspace time as a reward for a long day of super productive work.
Banning your addiction outright often leads to a Facebook relapse. We don’t want this. Give yourself some set times to visit and don’t break the limits.
4. Turn off email notifications
Email notifications are like little red devils coming to sit on your shoulder and begging you to come back and visit Facebook. Turn them off. You don’t need to be notified every time someone sends you a message. If it was that important they should email you or, God forbid, use the telephone. You also don’t need to be notified every time someone rates your sexiness, adds a fish to your aquarium or sends you a new bumper sticker!
Turn off email reminders so you can get on with your work.
5. Meditate as soon as the thought arises
One of the most powerful ways to beat Facebook Syndrome is to look directly at the tempting thought as soon as it arises in your mind. You do not need to judge it or try to push it out – just look at it. The thought might arise as a worrying thought that begs you to check your updates so you don’t offend anyone. Or it might appear as a carefree thought saying that one quick look won’t hurt. Whatever it arises as the meditation is to just look at it. When you can do that the power of the thought will be drained well and truly.
6. Get off the computer
Really… do you need to spend that much time on the computer? Honestly ask yourself that. Instead of getting home, pouring a beer and sitting in front of the computer to check your updates you could go for a walk, hit the gym or go and see a movie. There is so much more to do in life than watch your hatching egg grow. Really there is.
7. Write down what you used to do before Facebook
Something that can be really useful to do is write down a list of things that you used to do before you got addicted to Facebook or Myspace. For example, some people might write, “I used to meet girls”. 🙂
Try and reconnect with what you used to do before these sites became such a big part of your life. Some of you will be quite surprised at how much you now do not do because you are spending so much time on the internet. You may also notice that around the same time your waistline suddenly got bigger…
8. Block the sites the REAL way
Your computer allows you to block certain sites. Sure, you can unblock them straight away if you wanted to but the more barriers you put in your way the better. However, if you want to seriously block these sites from your computer you can do it the REAL way:
Click START and then select RUN. In that box type notepad c:WINDOWSsystem32driversetchosts. A neat little Notepad will appear with a bunch of computer jargon on it. Scroll down to the last line of that code and type 127.0.0.1 facebook.com. After that Facebook will never show up on your PC again. You can substitute the domain for any other domain that you do not want to view.