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Facebook and Harmful Effects: Internet Addiction Essay

Unlike reading books and long magazine articles which requires the ability of critical thinking, social networks such as Facebook are the new addiction among people. With its limitless quantities of photos and status updates, which are bright-colored candies for the mind, it’s been difficult to recognize how toxic and harmful Facebook and other social networks can be. In the last five years, researchers from the United States, Europe, South America, China, and other locations have conducted studies related to internet addiction, social media use, and Facebook. From the review of literature detailed in these studies, many researchers have suggested that a new form of internet addiction related to Facebook use has emerged globally. Determining how much use of Facebook is normal and what type of behavior represents addictive or abusive activity is not a simple issue, as work patterns, artistic creativity, photography, text messaging, and family activities can all be involved.

The negative consequences of addictive social media use may not be immediately apparent to casual users. With debate ongoing as to whether to include social media addiction as a mental illness in the forthcoming version of the DSM used in clinical psychiatry, a review of current research in psychology and sociology is required to learn the characteristics, symptoms, and treatments for this growing problem. By reviewing individual case studies and surveys of cultural groups, more information about the modern diagnosis of Facebook addiction globally can be found.

People are not rational enough to be exposed to Facebook, which can lead to a change of behaviors. When these changes become negative to the life experience or health of the individual, professionals in mental health care have begun questioning whether social media addiction is a problem that must be addressed in large numbers. Psychological research into internet addiction begins with case studies of individuals that are then reviewed in large groups to combine quantitative and qualitative methods in statistical results. For example, the study by Karaiskos et al. (2010) looked at the example of a 24 year old woman who used Facebook for 5 hours per day, with over 400 friends. The woman had lost her job because of excessive Facebook use, posting status updates and other details to her profile. (Karaiskos et al., 2010)

The woman had used the internet for many years without developing addiction to other sites before using Facebook. The Karaiskos study concluded that “Facebook addiction can be considered as an ‘urge-driven disorder’ with a strong compulsive component… another subcategory of the internet spectrum addiction disorders.” (Karaiskos et al., 2010) Recent research by Kuss & Griffiths (2013) found “internet addiction appears as mental health concern for UK university students” and that “3.2% of the students were classified as being addicted to the Internet.” (Kuss & Griffiths, 2013) These researchers concluded that there was significant evidence that supported “the inclusion of ‘Internet addiction’ in the DSM-V.” (Kuss & Griffiths, 2013) Thus, a wide range of research in psychology and sociology is developing that identifies Facebook addiction as a serious mental health problem.

Facebook consumption is a competitive disadvantage, where the less time spent on Facebook, the bigger the advantage people might have. The case study of the woman given by the Karaiskos study showed how people could use their job because of too much Facebook use. However, the impact of overuse of Facebook and the loss of personal productivity in the workplace can also be found in enterprise studies. For example, companies whose employees are addicted to Facebook may check frequently their profiles or friends’ information as to be viewed as wasting time and reducing office or workplace efficiency. The Sherman study (2014) showed the influence of workplace factors related to “personality type, values, boredom and procrastination” in employees. (Sherman, 2014) Recent studies by Kuss and Griffiths (2013) suggest that as much of 21.5% of the differential shown in addictive use to Facebook varies according to personality type. (Kuss & Griffiths, 2013)

Sherman identifies neurotic individuals, women, and people prone to procrastination activities as most influenced by or susceptible to symptoms of Facebook addiction. (Sherman, 2014) Kuss & Griffiths (2011) found another characteristic that was indicative of increased susceptibility to Facebook addiction in ecommerce and online shopping frequency. (Kuss & Griffith, 2011) From these and other studies, it is increasingly evident that the mental health issues related to Facebook addiction have an impact on worker productivity across both white-collar and blue-collar sectors. Continued research is required to determine the degree of impact in different industry from social media addiction.

People who develop internet dependence may isolate and refrain from real-world activities, which can increase their risk of negative outcomes. While it may seem paradoxical that social media can lead to individual isolation, there are major issues with new technology use that have not been studied in long-term social impact or effect on individual mental health. Social media and Facebook usage are both relatively new phenomena, as are the rise of the internet and mobile phones globally. With these new technologies come new risks for people who are not critically prepared to monitor and condition their own behavior. Where isolation may also lead to addiction in other areas as an escape from personal problems, social media is then just one of many forms of abusive activity that can develop through negative mental health patterns.

In this way, Facebook addiction may derive characteristics and causes in individual psychology on pathways similar to those that are found in other types of neurosis. (Kuss & Griffiths, 2013) Job loss, neglect of loved ones, friends, and family, or other problems can develop from people who become overly immersed in Facebook, while this can also lead to financial concerns, academic performance issues, or loss of contact with social groups in the “real world.” The problem with Facebook and social media addiction is further linked to narcissistic behavior in isolated individuals and environments that are mediated by new technologies.

Facebook status updates are overwhelmingly about things you cannot influence. The daily repetition of notifications about things that people can’t act upon makes them passive. The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale (BFAS) looked at a set of 18 variables that related to Facebook addiction, including “the six core elements of addiction (salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict, and relapse).” (Andreassen et al., 2012) The group found a high relation of correspondence between neurosis in individual mental health and social media addiction. To a lesser degree, extroversion was also seen as a personality trait that can contribute to Facebook addiction, whereas conscientiousness would be a trait that would preserve people from falling into the problem. (Andreassen et al., 2012)

From studies such as this, it becomes evident that increasing conscientiousness or critical thinking abilities in people could help them mentally balance activities and avoid internet, social media, or Facebook addiction. Sleep and regulated bed times were also seen as significant variables in these studies. (Andreassen et al., 2012) Social conditioning can have a large impact as it varies with personality traits in individuals to both encourage and discourage the development of Facebook and social media addiction. The primary antidote to what is unconscious, need-driven neurotic expression in Facebook addiction can be found in critical thinking.

The more time people spend on Facebook, the more they exercise their ability to skimming and multitasking while ignoring the ability used for reading deeply and thinking with profound focus. This leads to a reduced ability to concentrate that may impact work performance, academic testing, memory, or other issues. The Kuss and Griffiths (2011) study found narcissism and neuroticism as related root causes of Facebook addiction. “Extraverts appear to use social networking sites for social enhancement, whereas introverts use it for social compensation, each of which appears to be related to greater usage, as does low conscientiousness and high narcissism.” (Kuss & Griffiths, 2011)

Whether or not critical thinking is capable of addressing deeper root neurotic tendencies is currently under debate by these researchers, leading for many to argue for the inclusion of social media addiction into the DSM-V to reflect clinic and counseling environments. Critical thinking can be seen as a wider solution which does not address the neurotic elements at a root level of treatment, needing for the inclusion of social media addiction as a new mental illness category.

Facebook can severely affect memory, disrupt concentration, and weaken comprehension. Developments in neuroscience and psychology can be applied to diagnose instances of social media addiction and to study the neurochemical or behavioral changes induced by the neurosis. In studying the individual effects of Facebook addiction in MRI scans or neurochemistry, scientists can shed new light on the physiological issues associated with this problem. However, the phenomena is still new and related to technological innovations which require further studies worldwide in individual psychology and collective sociological issues involved.

The “decrease in real life social community participation and academic achievement, as well as relationship problems” are seen at this stage as the most apparent symptoms of Facebook addiction as a mental illness concern. (Kuss & Griffiths, 2011) These conclusions may change as more research in neurophysiology, pharmacology, and neurochemistry are applied to social media addiction.

Debate as to whether to include Facebook addiction as a mental illness in the forthcoming version of the DSM-V used in clinical psychiatry are strong, as the problem of internet addiction is well established. The problem of social media addiction has roots in narcissistic and neurotic behavior, and can lead to decline in performance in the workplace or school. Personal relationships can also be neglected when people become morbidly obsessed or addicted to their Facebook status and profile settings.

The social media websites have an addiction percentage that may be as high as 3.5% of the population, which can represent serious mental health and economic consequences for millions of people. In addition to this, those who need help and treatment for this disease must have official psychiatric recognition in order for insurance coverage to pay for treatment, counseling, and prescriptions. Therefore, current research developing the characteristics, signs, and symptoms of Facebook addiction should be closely monitored in order that appropriate treatment responses may be applied.

Works Cited
ANDREASSEN, C.S., TORSHEIM, T., BRUNBORG, G.S., & PALLESEN, S. “DEVELOPMENT OF A FACEBOOK ADDICTION SCALE.” Psychological Reports, Volume 110, 2012, pp. 501-517. Aug. 03, 2014 . Karaiskos, D., Tzavellas, E., Balta, G., & Paparrigopoulos, T. “Social network addiction : a new clinical disorder?” European Psychiatry, Volume 25, Supplement 1, 2010, Pages 855. Aug. 03, 2014 . Kuss, D.J. & Griffiths, M.D. “Online Social Networking and Addiction—A Review of the Psychological Literature.” Int. J. Environ. Res. Public
Health, 2011, pp. 3528-3552. PDF. Kuss, D.J., Griffiths, M.D., & Binder, J.F. “Internet addiction in students: Prevalence and risk factors.” Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 29, Issue 3, May 2013, Pages 959–966. Aug. 03, 2014 . Sherman, Erica. “Facebook Addiction: Factors Influencing an Individual’s Addiction.” Honors Thesis Program in the College of Management, Paper 5, 2011. Aug. 03, 2014 .

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