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Facebook Addiction

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Submitted By dchhuy
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Without question, the internet was the greatest invention of the 21st Century. Linking the world together in a single portal, it offers unlimited possibilities on a global scale. At any given second of any day, billions of people are online utilizing the internet in their daily lives. With every new technological advance, come new problems created by it. The internet is no exception. Numerous articles and studies have examined how the internet, specifically social media sites, such as Facebook, have impacted society and our behaviors. Many of these show, that excessive social media use can have a very negative outcome on various levels. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or D.S.M. recently added “behavioral addiction,” to its classification of addiction. Behavioral addiction includes internet addiction. (Markel, 2012) As more and more uses of the internet become available, users find themselves on the internet more and more, specifically social media sites. Many mindlessly log on to Facebook or Twitter now without even giving it a second thought, it’s just something to do to pass the time. It seems harmless, but how much time is being wasted, and how much can this affect our comprehension and attention spans? Life at 120 characters, and constantly updating status updates takes away from the brains capacity to focus on actual important information. It makes it easier to lose focus and ignore the actual life going on around us.
In a recent Pace University Study, researchers asked 218 undergraduate students to self-monitor Facebook usage and meaningfulness in their daily lives. Results suggested the greater amount of time spent on Facebook/status updated the lower the self-esteem, and higher cases of loneliness. (Schwartz, 2012) Based on these results, conclusions can be drawn about the impact social media can potentially have on a person’s mental health and well-being. Social media draws the user away from ‘real’ life, into a virtual world. A great commercial came out a few years ago featuring a twenty something talking about how she inspired her parents to get out and live by joining Facebook, and then flashes to the parents out with their friends living it up outdoors, in the mean time she is going on about how many Facebook friends she has. We have begun to reconstruct what it is to interact and live, and social media has closed us off and made us lonelier and unhappy by its very nature, yet we continue to log on.
In our society, we are so quick to classify any problem as a possible mental health disorder. Along with that diagnoses comes the quick fix, more often than not in the form of expensive treatments. “Behavioral Addictions,” such as gambling and internet addictions have even been added to the D.S.M. as legitimate afflictions. (Markel, 2012) Social media addiction is the newest trend. More and more studies and research have been conducted to determine the impact and outcome of excessive social media sites, but is it a real disorder, or merely a hot topic being used by the media and psychiatric professions to solicit more business?
When you dig deeper, nearly all of these “technological addictions” don’t really appear to be addictions to the technology, but rather a symptom of some other issue (such as depression) that manifest it by focusing an inordinate amount of time on some technology. Focusing too much on the symptom, by falsely labeling it an addiction, could lead to poor treatment, as the focus is on treating the symptom, rather than the actual problem. (Singer, 2010) Social media is not the root problem for individuals who become compulsive users of Facebook, or other social media sites. In most cases, there is a previous issue, which is driving the person’s excessive use. Most individuals can scroll through a friend feed, or check out some pictures posted by a friend, and then put down the Facebook, and go about our lives. The person who is predisposed to compulsion or addictive behaviors might have a harder time, but it’s not the actual social media site that’s the problem, it’s the individual. Blaming the Facebook takes away from the real issue, and possibly diagnoses the person incorrectly.
There are dangers in creating “false diagnoses”. First, if the individual needs real treatment for depression or compulsive disorder, giving the social media addiction to much attention could take away from the real issue, and leave the person with incomplete treatment. Secondly, it’s possible a person doesn’t have a social media addiction, just a case of boredom. Misdiagnosing someone can have negative consequences, including prescribing unnecessary psychiatric medication. Ultimately, more research is needed to determine the legitimacy and possible treatment of “social media addiction.”…...

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