Do you get twitchy when you can’t refresh your Facebook news feed? Do you dream in Instagram filters? It’s not just you. A recent study reveals that social media addiction might be a real problem. Especially if you already have a tendency toward addiction and general emotional regulation. From the abstract:
The use of online social networking sites is potentially addictive. Modified measures of substance abuse and dependence are suitable in assessing disordered online social networking use. Disordered online social networking use seems to arise as part of a cluster of symptoms of poor emotion regulation skills and heightened susceptibility to both substance and non-substance addiction.
The study, “Craving Facebook? Behavioral addiction to online social networking and its association with emotion regulation deficits” was done at the University at Albany-SUNY. They surveyed around 300 students, 60 percent of them white and 63 percent of them female, which is an interesting twist. MediaPost reports that:
The researchers described how Facebook feeds the addictive dynamic: “New notifications or the latest content on your news feed acts as a reward. Not being able to predict when new content is posted encourages us to check back frequently. This uncertainty about when a new reward is available is known as a ‘variable interval schedule of reinforcement’ and is highly effective in establishing habitual behaviors that are resistant to extinction. Facebook is also making it easy for users to continuously be connected to its platform, for example by offering push notifications to mobile devices.”
Just like any other addictive substance, respondents reported irritability when unable to access Facebook, increased use over time and cravings to check. At least Facebook isn’t bad for your health. Sound like you? The next time a loved one or your boss calls you out for using your mobile device to fulfill that need, you can go Carrie Bradshaw on them: