Are We Addicted to Social Networking Sites?

On: September 27, 2009
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About Sarah Moore
I am a MA New Media Student at the University of Amsterdam. I received my bachelors in Radio-TV-Film and Sociology at the University of Texas in 2007. I am interested in graphic design and media arts. Currently working on a website about life in Amsterdam


Social Networking sites  such as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and Hyves have exploded in the past five years and have caused a societal shift in the way we communicate and connect with others. In 2009, time spent on social networking sites tripled compared to the previous year and we now spend 17% percent of our internet time using social networking sites. [1] While there has not been any official medical research on social networking sites, many theorists believe that using social networking sites can be addicting. Research at the  American Psychiatric Association have researched addiction among the general use of the computer and internet and patients have undergone internet or computer use therapy. Patients have not yet sought therapy specifically for social networking site usage though many patients discuss using these sites.

CNN interviewed several people in 2008 who discuss their reliance on social networking websites. Many interviewees admitted to using Facebook and tweeting several times a day at work or in school when they should have been doing something else. Others said they were distracted by Facebook at home  and results in ignoring their family or chores.

“I’m an addict. I just get lost in Facebook,” Newton said. “My daughter gets so PO’d at me, and really it is kind of pathetic. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of. I just get so sucked in.” [2]

Though the prime victims of social networking addiction is thought to be children, many adults and especially parents are increasing their time on these sites. wrote an article specifically on younger mothers. These mothers are feeling isolated and overwhelmed with a new baby, turning to the computer for community, companionship and escape. [3]

Mosteller talks with Coleen Moore, coordinator of resource development at the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery in Peoria, who says she is seeing increasing numbers of women, most with young children, come for help because they are addicted to blogs, message boards and Second Life.

Personally, I find myself checking social networking sites several times a day and I can easily spend hours chatting on Facebook, checking comments, and looking through pictures. I definitely spend more time on social networking sites than any other sites on the web and spend my time connecting with others more than watching television or films. I also see that when I am online, many of my peers are also online at the same time. This pattern leads me to believe  this phenomena is more than an addiction and more a radical societal shift in the way we spend our time.

According to CNN, signs that you are addicted to Facebook are as follows:

1. You lose sleep over Facebook

2. You spend more than an hour a day on Facebook

3. You become obsessed with old loves

4. You ignore work in favor of Facebook

5. The thought of getting off Facebook leaves you in a cold sweat [4]

These symptoms of addiction are similar to all forms of addiction such as gambling and though I believe that people who answer yes to these questions are probably addicted to Facebook, I think the massive growing popularity in using these sites calls for a more in-depth research on internet addiction than just comparing it to other, more traditional forms of addiction.

Is this an addiction or a new way of life?

Research has stated that many are slimming down on time spent on TV and watching movies in favor of spending time online. [5] In the beginning, social networking sites were just profile pages with pictures and blog entries. Now you are able to chat online via Facebook, follow  the news via Twitter, and watch movies via Youtube. Social Networking sites are increasingly consolidating all of our entertainment into one free package. This makes it really convenient to merge all of your different free-time activities into one place. In the pre-social networking era,  people talked on the telephone, looked through physical photo albums at home, read the news in the paper, and wrote thoughts in a journal. Now all of this is provided to you through social networking sites. So are we really doing anything different or are  we spending the same amount of time with these pastimes but now through the means of the web?






Comments are closed.