Facebook addiction symptoms, causes, and effects
Table of content
- What is Facebook addiction?
- What are the causes of Facebook addiction?
- What are the effects of Facebook addiction?
- What are the signs and symptoms of Facebook addiction?
- How to overcome Facebook addiction?
- What are the risk factors for Facebook addiction?
- How do you treat Facebook addiction?
- What other social media platforms can cause addiction?
Facebook addiction refers to the compulsive need to use this platform even when it harms a person’s physical, mental, and social health and wellbeing. The main symptoms of Facebook addiction are the constant use of the platform, using Facebook as an escape from problems, and returning to Facebook to boost mood and self-esteem. A person with Facebook addiction neglects their responsibilities and real life in favor of Facebook presence.
Like in other addictions, the causes of Facebook addiction are biological, social, and psychological. Having mental health problems such as anxiety and depression can significantly contribute to Facebook addiction. Lack of cohesiveness at home can do the same.
Effects of Facebook addiction are numerous and revolve around problems with relationships, decreased productivity at work or school, and worsening of both physical and mental health. Thankfully, this addiction can be treated with counseling and a strong support system.
What is Facebook addiction?
Facebook addiction is a type of behavioral addiction indicated by compulsive use of Facebook regardless of the consequences it causes. While not formally recognized as an addiction, this is a serious problem due to the widespread use of this social media platform. A person with Facebook addiction spends most of their time on this platform and tends to use it as an escape mechanism from problems in real life.
What are the causes of Facebook addiction?
Causes of Facebook addiction belong to three categories, such as:
- Biological causes: Facebook use may influence the brain’s reward system and induce pleasurable emotions that users want to emulate. Since the receptors in the brain become less sensitive due to repeated exposure, a person needs to use Facebook more often just to experience the same effects. This leads to dependence and addiction
- Psychological causes: low self-esteem and confidence, and certain personality traits such as neuroticism and narcissism could be behind the development of Facebook addiction. Moreover, a person is more likely to become addicted if they have underlying mental health problems such as anxiety and depression
- Social or environmental causes: according to a study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, lack of family cohesiveness can contribute to the development of internet addictions. Facebook addiction is one of them. That means a lack of structure in the family can pave the way to problematic use of Facebook. Also, addiction to this platform can occur in persons with a history of addictive behaviors, or when a person spends a lot of time with other people with problematic Facebook use
What are the effects of Facebook addiction?
The effects of Facebook addiction can be physical and psychological, which is why this type of addiction has a detrimental impact on a person’s quality of life. The biggest effects of Facebook addiction are listed below.
- Physical effects: burning eyes, disturbed sleep patterns, and headache are the most common physical effects of Facebook use reported by a study in the BMC Research Notes. Facebook addiction also leads to muscle tension and higher BMI or weight gain and poorer physical health outcomes, Harvard Business Review reported
- Psychological effects: anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and lack of confidence are among the strongest psychological effects of Facebook addiction. These effects usually occur as users compare themselves and their lives with other people. Other psychological effects may include intensified loneliness, envy and jealousy, and resentment
- Short-term effects: curiosity, thrill when reading something new or interesting, excitement when adding friends or posting updates on Facebook
- Long-term effects: worsening of anxiety and depression, suicidal thoughts and tendencies, strained relationships, worsening of physical health due to lack of sleep and weight fluctuations, fear of missing out
What are the signs and symptoms of Facebook addiction?
Signs and symptoms of Facebook addiction include:
- The compulsive need to check Facebook constantly
- Spending more time on Facebook than intended
- Constantly publishing Facebook updates and adding new “friends”
- Over-sharing on Facebook
- Being overly concerned with Facebook image or “reputation”
- Compromising real or “offline” life in favor of Facebook
- Using Facebook to escape from problems in “real life” and boost mood
- Impaired sleep cycle due to Facebook use
- Low self-esteem and confidence caused by comparing oneself to people on Facebook
- Lying about Facebook use
- Friends and family express concerns about the time a person spends on Facebook
- Neglecting work, school, and other responsibilities in favor of Facebook
- Showing up late at meets and other arranged events due to Facebook use
- Unsuccessful attempts to limit Facebook use
- Frustration and irritability when unable to use Facebook
Facebook addiction manifests itself through a multitude of symptoms affecting a person’s mental health and quality of life. Other possible symptoms of Facebook addiction are listed below.
- Poor mental health
- Problems with work
- Strained relationships
- Strong urge to use Facebook as an escape from stressful situations, bad moods, and other issues.
Is Facebook addiction good or bad?
Facebook addiction is bad, like any other type of addiction. The term addiction points to unhealthy and compulsive thoughts, activities, and behaviors. In this case, Facebook addiction refers to the unhealthy and damaging use of this platform.
Numbers show Facebook has around 2.910 billion active monthly users and around 1.930 billion people use the platform each day. As of October 2021, over 9.3% of total active Facebook users were females aged between 18 and 24. At the same time, men between the ages of 25 and 34 account for the biggest demographic on this social media platform.
Negative effects of Facebook addiction revolve around impaired physical, social, and mental health and wellbeing. On the other hand, positive effects could include a self-esteem boost in some people, but it tends to be short-term.
What are some of the warning signs of Facebook addiction?
Some of the warning signs of Facebook addiction are listed below:
- Checking Facebook first thing in the morning and the last thing before going to sleep
- Spending a lot of time on Facebook during working hours
- Constantly checking whether new posts have received likes or comments
- Spending a lot of time overthinking and planning new Facebook updates
- Being upset when family or friends don’t like or comment new Facebook update
- Checking phone every few minutes for any notification on Facebook
- Strong need to post Facebook updates about everything during the day
- Finding Facebook more interesting and exciting than real life
How to overcome Facebook addiction?
Overcoming Facebook addiction starts with becoming aware of the problematic use of the platform. Although it may sound cliché, in order to overcome this type of addiction a person needs to acknowledge they have a problem first. Additionally, it is important to be aware of the purpose of an individual’s use of Facebook in order to determine whether it aligns with how they value spending their time.
If a person believes their Facebook use isn’t necessarily how they value spending their time, there’s a lot they can do about it. The first step is to track how much they use Facebook for a few days. Social media apps nowadays feature a section that shows how much time users spend using these platforms. This can also help a person evaluate their Facebook use and acknowledge problematic use. To check this info on Facebook it’s necessary to open the app, head over to Settings & Privacy, select Your Time on Facebook and tap onto the See Time button. Upon selecting See Time, users get a graph that shows the average time on Facebook this (current) week and last week. It’s also possible to opt for weekly updates, which can help persons with problematic use. That way, they can introduce more structure and discipline into their Facebook habits and make sure they don’t go overboard.
Another strategy that helps overcome Facebook addiction is to avoid using the phone in bed, car, or during work, unless it’s absolutely necessary. Taking a short break (deactivating) from Facebook is also helpful.
For some people deactivating their profile is too drastic, so instead, they can focus on gradually reducing time spent on the platform. Strive to reduce Facebook use by logging in less frequently.
Paying attention to emotions and feelings during Facebook use also aids in the recovery process. Many people use Facebook without realizing how it makes them feel. For example, some men and women use Facebook to improve their mood but aren’t aware it makes them feel worse later on. With an understanding of how Facebook use affects emotions, it becomes easier to take a step back and reduce time spent on the app.
Distraction is always a practical tool in overcoming some types of addiction, including this one. Examples of useful distractions include yoga, meditation, hiking, cooking, sketching, reading, writing, exercising, and other healthy activities.
A strong support system is also important for overcoming Facebook addiction the same way it is in combating any other addiction.
What are the risk factors for Facebook addiction?
Risk factors for Facebook addiction are listed below.
- Social and emotional loneliness i.e. physical or emotional distancing from friends, family, significant others
- Difficulties to relate socially
- Presence of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, PTSD
- Family history of addiction
- Peer pressure to keep using Facebook and maintain “image” on the platform
- Lack of family structure and involvement
- Lower life satisfaction
- Narcissism and neuroticism
- Being female
- Being between 24 and 30 years old
- Lower differentiation of self
- Negative communication patterns with parents and others
How do you treat Facebook addiction?
Treating Facebook addiction revolves around therapy sessions, but some people may receive medications for underlying mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. The main goal of psychological treatment i.e. therapy is to help patients overcome negative thoughts and behaviors by adopting healthier and more positive patterns and coping mechanisms.
Addictions tend to stem from unresolved mental health problems, which is why therapists help patients work on their emotional and psychological wellbeing so they can prevent relapse and continue using the internet and social media without developing an addiction.
Various types of therapies are involved in the treatment of social media addictions such as Facebook addiction. The most commonly employed approach is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). According to a study from the Journal of Behavioral Addictions CBT is effective in ameliorating symptoms of internet addictions.
Psychological treatment for Facebook addiction may also include behavior modification to establish healthy internet use patterns and other forms of therapy such as dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). As a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, DBT aims to identify and change negative thinking patterns and pushes for positive behavioral changes.
Why is using Facebook addictive?
Facebook is addictive because it activates the brain’s reward center by offering a sense of social acceptance in the form of positive feedback such as comments and likes. Facebook is a social media platform where users get to connect with friends and family, share updates, read news and latest developments, and more. This social media platform allows a person to stay in touch with other people but also to know what’s going on in the world. In other words, Facebook has become a “window” through which users observe everything around them.
The main advantages of Facebook are its ease of use and the fact people from different age groups can use it. But disadvantages are also evident in the form of addictive nature and the fact most people use the platform as an escape from their problems.
Facebook use may turn into addiction because it offers instant gratification. Supportive comments and a lot of likes on status updates and photos serve as an instant boost for many users. As a result, they may crave this kind of affirmation on a daily basis, particularly when they are going through stressful times in their lives. With time, Facebook becomes a coping mechanism. This leads to dependency and addiction because a person needs to spend more and more time on Facebook to feel a certain way.
Fear of missing out also promotes Facebook addiction. In this situation, a person firmly believes they are going to miss something important when they’re not on the platform. The fear of missing out makes them check Facebook more frequently to the point it becomes the main activity in their life. This is why persons with Facebook addiction jeopardize sleep, work, and real lives in favor of scrolling their Facebook timeline, commenting, posting, and liking other posts.
When is Facebook addiction counseling necessary?
Facebook addiction counseling is necessary when a person finds it difficult to stop or reduce time spent on the platform on their own. Becoming dependent on Facebook and other social media platforms is easier than people believe.
Counseling is also a good choice when the thought of reducing Facebook use causes distress and discomfort in a person. Problematic use of Facebook is a telltale sign a person needs counseling, even if they haven’t developed addiction just yet. Scheduling a counseling session is also necessary when a person has relationship problems due to Facebook use or their time on the platform has a negative impact on the quality of life. Impaired mental health due to Facebook use is a good reason to consider counseling. According to a study from the Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, Facebook can boost self-esteem in some people, but significantly reduce it in others.
Therapists help persons with problematic use and Facebook addiction develop strategies to cut back, work through negative emotions resulting from their time on the platform, and find more productive coping mechanisms.
What are the symptoms of Facebook addiction withdrawal?
Symptoms of Facebook addiction withdrawal include irritability and mood swings, anxiety and depression, and insomnia. Additionally, a person going through withdrawal from Facebook addiction may also experience cravings, fatigue, aches and pains, and nausea. Strong cravings to use Facebook are also among the withdrawal symptoms. It’s not uncommon for people to have headaches, diarrhea, restlessness, and difficulty breathing during withdrawal.
In other words, symptoms of Facebook addiction withdrawal are similar to withdrawal from other behavioral addictions and substance use disorders. Withdrawal is usually associated with drug or alcohol addiction, but these symptoms appear with other addictions too. For example, a study from Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking found that even brief abstinence from social media can induce withdrawal symptoms.
The intensity and duration of withdrawal symptoms depend on the severity of addiction to Facebook and the presence of other mental health problems.
What other social media platforms can cause addiction?
Other platforms that can cause social media addiction include Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and TikTok. In other words, any social media platform can lead to addiction if a person develops problematic use. In fact, numbers show that 15% of people aged between 23 and 38 admit to being addicted to social media. At the same time, around 40% of people aged between 18 and 22 feel “somewhat” addicted to social media.