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switch off

Here's how to tell if you're addicted to Facebook

It might be time for a ‘digital detox’.

COUNSELLORS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS have warned that internet users must learn to switch off and overcome their online addictions as increasing numbers of people are “losing control of the amount of time” they spend online.

This week, the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP), pointed to US research that found social media can be even more addictive than cigarettes or alcohol.

“Being connected to friends and business associates has clear benefits, but many people, especially young people, find the desire to use Facebook or Twitter so strong that it’s affecting their personal relationships, their studies and often their jobs,” said Shane Kelly, Professional Services Manager with the IACP.

Many people find it impossible to put down their mobile even when having a meal with friends, attending a meeting or while out on a first date.

The association said the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale should be used to determine whether or not you have a problem.

This scale was developed by researchers in Norway to assess whether a Facebook user is addicted to using the platform and is assessed according to the following criteria:

  • You spend a lot of time thinking of Facebook;
  • You feel the urge to use Facebook more and more;
  • You use Facebook to forget about personal problems;
  • You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without success;
  • You become restless or troubled when you cannot use Facebook or use is prohibited;
  • You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact on your job or studies.

The IACP said internet addiction is time-consuming and can lead to empty lives as meaningful interactions are replaced by superficial interactions. Studies have also shown that people with high usage of social media sites may have lower levels of self-esteem and a higher incidence of depression.

If you are worried you may have an internet addiction, the association advises changing your environment and creating boundaries and alternatives. It is also helpful to tell friends and families about a planned ‘digital detox’.

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