You check it first thing in the morning, before you even get out of bed.

Resisting the urge to log in and scroll through your feed during dinner is nearly impossible.

You know it is wasting a significant amount of your precious time, and you believe you may have some kind of addiction.

Maybe you’ve even considered “taking a break” from it, or walking away from it forever, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it.

While “Facebook addiction disorder” isn’t an official psychiatric diagnosis (yet), for many, cutting back on time spent on the social media site is very difficult.

Our relationship with Facebook is a complicated one, and a new study from Cornell Information Science highlights four reasons why:

  • Perceived addiction: Those who feel that Facebook is addictive or habitual were more likely to return, according to the group’s research. One participant described this habitual aspect by saying, “In the first ten days, whenever I opened up an Internet browser, my fingers would automatically go to ‘f’.”
  • Privacy and surveillance: People who use Facebook largely to manage how other people think of them are more likely to log back in, while users who felt their Facebook activity was being monitored were less likely to revert.
  • Subjective mood: Are you in a good mood? You’re less likely to renege on your pledge to stay off Facebook.
  • Other social media: The group found that Facebook users were less likely to log back in if they had other social media outlets — like Twitter, for instance — to occupy their time. Interestingly, though, those who reflected on the appropriate role for technology in their social lives were more likely to revert. In many of these cases, people returned to Facebook but altered their use, for example, uninstalling the app from their phones, reducing their number of friends, or limiting the amount of time spent on the platform.


Eric Baumer, the study’s first author and Information Science and Communication Researcher at Cornell, said of the findings:

These results show just how difficult daily decisions about social media use can be. In addition to concerns over personal addiction, people are reluctant about corporations collecting, analyzing, and potentially monetizing their personal information.

However, Facebook also serves numerous important social functions, in some cases providing the only means for certain groups to keep in touch. These results highlight the complexities involved in people’s ongoing decisions about how to use, or not use, social media.

Healthy levels of Facebook use can provide many benefits: the site allows us to keep in touch with friends and family, appeals to the information junkie in us, gives us a creative outlet (and sometimes, feeds our egos), and helps us connect with others.

But when use interferes with work, school, and real-world relationships, a problem may exist, and it might be time to think about reducing hours spent on the social media network.

As LiveScience noted earlier this year:

Several studies have suggested that Facebook and other social networking sites have a profound impact on people. For example, Facebook can hurt a woman’s body image, allow people to obsess over a failed relationship and even lead some people to fall into depression. In fact, so many people end up feeling left out after seeing pictures of friends at a rooftop party or eating opulent meals, for example, that there’s even a word for it: “fear of missing out,” or FOMO.

If you believe you or someone you care about is obsessed with or addicted to Facebook, this assessment from TechAddiction can help you find out: The Facebook Addiction Test

Related Reading

Stop It! These Habits Are Bad for Your Mental Health

Is Your Smartphone Running (and Perhaps Ruining) Your Life?

Social Media Use Can Cause Depression, Anxiety, and Sleep Trouble for Teens

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