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Facebook Addiction: New Scale Gauges Social Media Dependency

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: Updated: 05/08/2012 2:04 pm

Internet Addiction

Some people can't stop friending, tagging, poking, and posting. Psychologists say Facebook addiction is real--and now it can be measured.

Researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway have developed a new tool, the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, to measure obsession with the social media site.

For a new study published in the April 12, 2012 issue of the journal Psychological Reports, the researchers tested the scale with more than 400 university students.

The scale gauges Facebook addiction on the basis of six criteria:

  • You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or plan use of Facebook.
  • You feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.
  • You use Facebook in order to forget about personal problems.
  • You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without success.
  • You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using Facebook.
  • You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies.

People are asked to self-report how each statement applies to them: (1) very rarely, (2) rarely, (3) sometimes, (4) often, and (5) very often.

The researchers found that people who indicate "often" or "very often" on four or more of the statements may be experiencing a Facebook addiction--and women are at greatest risk, according to the study. People with poor sleep habits also score high on the scale.

"It occurs more regularly among younger than older users," study author Dr. Cecilie Schou Andreassen, a psychologist at the university, said in a written statement. "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."

Plus, let's face it, avoiding Facebook is tough. Recent research from the University of Chicago suggests that social media are more addictive than sex.

About two-thirds of adults online--66 percent--say they use some type of social media like Facebook or Twitter, according to the Pew Research Center.

Facebook has more than 900 million monthly active users.

Check out the video below for more on how the Internet affects our lives.

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