Twenty-One Reasons For Facebook Addiction
By Dr. Brent Conrad
Clinical Psychologist for TechAddiction
As explained in a previous article in this series, Facebook Addiction is not a recognized clinical disorder. Hundreds of millions of people use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family, plan events, receive news, and play games.
For most, Facebook is a useful and enjoyable way of interacting with others online. However, some users claim to be addicted or obsessed with Facebook and have difficulty logging off even after they have been on for hours.
What is it about Facebook that makes it potentially addictive? Below, TechAddiction provides a list of possible reasons for Facebook Addiction. As you read though the explanations, keep in mind of course that not every point applies to every Facebook user. However, if you have a Facebook account you will likely find that at least a few apply to you.
Reasons for Facebook Addiction
1) Minimal Effort Catch-
The format of Facebook allows users to catch up with friends and family with, let's face it, minimal effort. Posts are usually quite short (both to make and to read). One quick status update that goes out to all your friends, a short comment on a picture, or a quick "like" and you are done. Relationships that previously would have naturally died can be kept alive (sometimes on life support) on Facebook.
2) Lets Us Share Information With Many People Simultaneously
Related to the above point, Facebook allows users to share personal information with others more efficiently and with potentially better "net etiquette" than other forms of online communication. For example, rather than spam the email inbox of everyone you know with vacation pictures, the same photos can be posted on Facebook for friends to view if they choose to.
3) Appeals To The Info Junkie In All Of Us
As humans, we have an inborn and insatiable desire for knowledge and information -
4) Feeds Our Naturally Voyeuristic Natures
In addition to our need for information about the world, an even stronger human desire is the need for information about other people. Humans are undeniably social animals and are natural voyeurs -
5) A Forum For Our Egos
Although we may not like to admit it, one of our favorite topics of conversation is...ourselves. This is not to imply that we are all egotistical narcissists, but that there is a clear human need for self-
One of the initial selling points or "hooks" of Facebook is the possibility of reconnecting with old friends -
7) Makes Us Feel Understood
One of the consequences of sharing personal information with others is (surprise) they will learn about us and understand us better (if we are honest about the information we share). Opening up and sharing personally information is of course, a pathway to more meaningful interpersonal relationships -
8) Family Contact
Without question, one of the most appealing aspects of Facebook is how easy it makes staying in touch with family. Even family members living on opposite sides of the world can quickly chat with or receive updates from each other. Rather than drifting apart, Facebook truly does make it easier to stay connected to those we care about. When used to supplement (not replace) other forms of communication Facebook is definitely a great tool for families -
9) My Mood Booster
Some Facebook users report that they use it to feel better when they are depressed, stressed, or anxious. The boost in mood may come from the previously discussed points of feeling more connected, understood, and important to others. When used only occasionally as an outlet for negative emotions, this may be relatively harmless -
10) Makes Us Feel Part Of An Expansive Exciting World
Although there are exceptions, most of us lead pretty normal lives. We go to work or to school, we come home, look forward to weekends and holidays...and repeat. Every once in a while we do something a bit more interesting, enjoyable, or exciting and this makes the routine of our normal lives easier to accept. Part of the appeal of Facebook is that it allows us to temporarily escape our "normal" lives and be a part of something larger, more exciting, or more interesting. For example, we may join a Facebook group for a political group or cause, have a live chat with friend who is at a great concert in another country, or become "friends" with celebrities or people in powerful positions. As such, the temporary escape to a more vibrant and exciting world may be one the factors that makes Facebook so addictive.
11) Feeds The Essential Need For Human Connection
12) I'm Thinking About You...But I Really Don't Want To Talk To You Right Now
Staying with the theme of "it's popular because it's easier", Facebook allows us to tell others we are thinking about them, but without the effort of a phone call, the thought required for a full email message, or the expectation of a reply following a text message. A one sentence (or even one word) message on someone's wall and your social contact obligation is theoretically fulfilled. Very convenient indeed.
13) Social Needs Fulfilled In Digital Form
Psychologist Abraham Maslow once proposed a hierarchy of human needs. In order of importance these were 1. Physiological Needs, 2. Security Needs, 3. Social Needs, 4. Esteem Needs, and 5. Self-
14) I Can't Miss Out!
Although Facebook's growth rate is reportedly slowing down, this is largely because it is reaching a saturation point in the market. That is, almost everyone who is online (especially teens to those in their 40s) already has a Facebook account. At this point having a Facebook account is almost as common as having an email account. So, if most (if not all) of your friends are using Facebook to chat, arrange meetings, plan parties, and generally organize their lives, you must also use Facebook if you want to be included. Not being on Facebook means missing out on online social interaction...and also being left out of real world activities. To avoid this undesirable situation, people may obsessively check their Facebook accounts dozens of times per day. It is easy to understand how a fear of being socially isolated could contribute to an addiction to Facebook.
15) Friendship Quantified
One clever design element of Facebook that may lead to addiction or obsession is the simple fact of having a defined number attached to how many "friends" you have accumulated. As previously mentioned, being socially accepted appears to be a universal human need. Having friends makes us feel appreciated, validates our sense of self-
16) I'm Not Wasting My Time...This Is Meaningful!
17) Socializing + Gaming = An Irresistible Combination
Not only does Facebook appeal to our need for social connections and friendships, it is increasingly becoming one of the world's most popular destinations for online gaming. Not surprisingly, Facebook tends to focus games that emphasize online social interactions with other players -
18) How Do I Really Compare To Others?
Facebook not appeals to our need for social acceptance, it also provides a forum for social comparison. Social Comparison Theory was developed by Social psychologist Leon Festinger and proposes that humans have a very strong drive to evaluate themselves by comparing their opinions, accomplishments, and abilities to others. Given this drive, the popularity of quizzes and personality tests on Facebook is not surprising. And of course, a large reason for their appeal is that after completion, they then allow the user to compare his or herself to others. It should be evident by now that Facebook addiction is not caused by creating and exploiting new human desires…but by providing a new way of meeting very basic human needs that have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years.
19) Boredom Buster For All
The reduction of boredom is a common reason people give for using Facebook. For some, the convenience of single, easy-
20) Insecurity Response
For some, one of the most addictive aspects of Facebook is the ability to check out what others are saying about them, who they are talking to, what they are doing, and whether this is all consistent with what they believe to be true. That is, if someone is feeling insecure in a relationship, questions whether he/she has been told the truth by someone, or has trust issues in general, Facebook may be the source they turn to for "the real story". Again, most people are usually able to resist the temptation to snoop around on their friends Facebook pages in an attempt to "catch" someone in a lie. However, there are some who regularly (obsessively?) use Facebook in response to jealousy and / or insecurities they have in their real-
21) I Am Not Alone
Feeling alone is something that many people experience from time to time. When we have not had enough social contact with others feeling lonely is normal and hopefully encourages us to seek out others -
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