The six signs of Facebook addiction

The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale is the first tool developed to test if you have become addicted to the social network. There are the six warning signs you can check yourself against.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

Are you addicted to Facebook? Researchers have developed a new tool to measure Facebook addiction: the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale.

In January 2011, Dr. Cecilie Schou Andreassen performed a study on 423 students (227 women and 196 men). The scale was then developed at the Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen (UiB) in collaboration with the Bergen Clinics Foundation, Norway. Andreassen says the scale can facilitate treatment research, clinical assessment, and can be used for the estimation of Facebook addiction prevalence in the general population worldwide.

An article about the results was recently published in the journal Psychological Reports. Here is the summary:

The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale (BFAS), initially a pool of 18 items, three reflecting each of the six core elements of addiction (salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict, and relapse), was constructed and administered to 423 students together with several other standardized self-report scales (Addictive Tendencies Scale, Online Sociability Scale, Facebook Attitude Scale, NEO–FFI, BIS/BAS scales, and Sleep questions). That item within each of the six addiction elements with the highest corrected item-total correlation was retained in the final scale. The factor structure of the scale was good (RMSEA = .046, CFI = .99) and coefficient alpha was .83. The 3-week test-retest reliability coefficient was .82. The scores converged with scores for other scales of Facebook activity. Also, they were positively related to Neuroticism and Extraversion, and negatively related to Conscientiousness. High scores on the new scale were associated with delayed bedtimes and rising times.

Andreassen's study shows that scoring of "often" or "very often" on at least four of the six items may suggest that you are addicted to Facebook. The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale is based on six basic criteria, where all items are scored on the following scale: (1) Very rarely, (2) Rarely, (3) Sometimes, (4) Often, and (5) Very often.

Here are the six warning signs:

  • You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or plan use of Facebook.
  • You feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.
  • You use Facebook in order to forget about personal problems.
  • You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without success.
  • You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using Facebook.
  • You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies.

Andreassen believes Facebook dependency occurs more regularly among younger users than older users. People who are anxious and socially insecure also use Facebook more than those with lower scores on those traits, while people who are organised and more ambitious tend to be less at risk to develop Facebook addiction. Lastly, Andreassen says her research also indicates that women are more at risk.

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